Folic Acid for Preventing Neural Tube Defects
Ziv Gil, Adi Aran, Orna Friedman, Liana Beni-Adani, Shlomo Constantini
Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheba; Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Dana Children's Hospital, Sourasky Medical Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv
Spina bifida and anencephaly are the most common, serious malformations in neural tube defects (NTD). Randomized trials in the last 2 decades have demonstrated that folic acid, 0.4 mg/d, reduces the incidence of NTD by more than 50%. We investigated the use of folic acid and multivitamins containing folic acid in childbearing women.
Of 221 women interviewed, 67 (30%) regularly took pills containing 0.4 mg folic acid. Women with higher educational levels were more likely to take multivitamins with folic acid than were the less educated (p=0.05). Of the women who took folic acid, only 5 (7.5%) used separate folic acid tablets, before and during their pregnancy. The rest used multivitamins containing folic acid. The 5 women who took folic acid separately were college-educated and nonreligious, and they took multivitamins in addition (p>0.05).
Of the women interviewed, 58 (26.2%) were Bedouin of the Negev. 24 (41.4%) of them took pills containing folic acid on a regular basis. This percentage is higher than that in the Jewish women in the study who took folic acid for prevention of NTD (17%; p=0.038).
Most of the women took folic acid after the first trimester. Only a minority took daily periconceptional folic acid. Multivitamins containing 0.4 mg of folic acid were more popular than folic acid tablets alone. This study emphasizes the need for continuing efforts to increase consumption of folic acid and awareness of its benefits among women of childbearing age.