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Ir Med J. 1997 Oct;90(6):236-8.

Knowledge and use of peri-conceptional folic acid among antenatal patients.

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  • 1Health Information Unit, Eastern Health Board, Dr Steeven's Hospital, Dublin.


Peri-conceptional folic acid can prevent more than half of all neural tube defects (NTDs). A cross-sectional interviewer administered study was undertaken among 300 women attending their first antenatal appointment in the three major Dublin maternity hospitals. The aim of the study was to monitor knowledge and behaviour with respect to peri-conceptional folic acid among antenatal patients. There was a 98% (295/300) response rate. 53.6% (158/295) had heard of folic acid. Such knowledge was significantly associated with age over 30 years (p < 0.001), a planned pregnancy (p < 0.001) and being married (p < 0.001). The majority (58.2%) found out about folic acid from lay sources such as friends or the media. One eighth (12.9%, 38/295) had been advised to take folic acid before pregnancy, the majority (58.3%, 21/38) having been advised by doctors. 21% (62/295) knew that it prevented spina bifida. 5.8% (17/295) had taken it before becoming pregnant. Taking folic acid before pregnancy was significantly associated with having a planned pregnancy (p < 0.005) and being married (p < 0.005). This study highlights the poor impact of health promotion campaigns to date and provides a challenge to health professionals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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