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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1999 Apr 30;48(16):325-7.

Knowledge and use of folic acid by women of childbearing age--United States, 1995 and 1998.


In the United States, approximately 4000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects each year; 50%-70% of these developmental defects could be prevented with daily intake of 400 microg of the B vitamin folic acid throughout the periconceptional period. In 1992, the Public Health Service recommended that all women capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 microg of folic acid daily throughout their childbearing years to reduce their risk for having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine recommended that all women of childbearing potential consume 400 microg of synthetic folic acid per day from fortified foods and/or a supplement in addition to food folate from a varied diet. This report summarizes the findings of a survey conducted during July-August 1998 to assess folic acid knowledge and practices among women of childbearing age in the United States and compares these results with those from a similar survey conducted in 1995. The findings indicate that 7% of women know folic acid should be taken before pregnancy to reduce the risk for neural tube defects.

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