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MMWR Recomm Rep. 2002 Sep 13;51(RR-13):4-8.

Serum folate levels among women attending family planning clinics--Georgia, 2000.


Since 1998, serum folate levels have increased nationally after mandatory fortification of cereal grain products with folic acid. Whether serum folate levels have increased among all women has not been well-studied. Identifying characteristics of women with lower serum folate levels would also be helpful in designing educational campaigns. Data for this report were collected during January 2000-January 2001. During 2000, blood samples were collected from 1,059 women aged 18-45 years who attended six family planning clinics in Georgia and analyzed for serum folate levels. This sample included women aged 18-25 years (60%), black women (41%), and women who had a high school education or less (49%). The median serum folate level (8.9 ng/mL) among this population was lower than the median of women of childbearing age (13.0 ng/mL) who participated in the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In logistic regression analysis, women who were black (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.48, 3.96), who smoked (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.26, 3.43), or who used Depo-Provera contraceptive injection (manufactured by Pharmacia Corporation, Peapack, New Jersey) (OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.15, 4.62) were more likely to be ranked in the lowest quartile (< or = 62 ng/mL) of serum folate concentrations when compared with the highest quartile (> 12.4 ng/mL). Women who consumed cereal regularly (OR = 0.4; 95% CI = 0.26, 0.62) or folic acid supplements (OR = 0.2; 95% CI = 0.09, 0.30) were the least likely to be in the lowest serum folate quartile. This study indicates that certain women are at greater risk for having lower serum folate levels, including women who are black, smokers, Depo-Provera users, and those less likely to eat cereal regularly or to take folic acid supplements. In Georgia, these data are useful in defining target populations (e.g., black women and smokers) for folic acid education campaigns because public health officials can develop contextually appropriate messages and outreach approaches for targeting women for folic acid interventions. Ongoing surveillance of serum folate status among women can guide future intervention efforts.

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