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Pediatrics. 2003 May;111(5 Pt 2):1142-5.

Pregnancy intendedness and the use of periconceptional folic acid.

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  • 1Office of Family Health, Oregon Department of Human Services, Portland, Oregon 97232, USA.



Periconceptional use of folic acid can prevent birth defects, including at least 50% of neural tube defects. This study used an ongoing surveillance system to explore the association between pregnancy intendedness and women taking periconceptional folic acid.


Oregon Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) surveys a stratified random sample of women after a live birth. In 1998-1999, 1867 women completed the survey (64.0% response rate); responses were weighted for nonresponse. Women were asked whether they took folic acid most days in the month before becoming pregnant.


Overall, 33.2% of women took folic acid most days in the month before becoming pregnant, and 39.9% said that their pregnancy was unintended. Adolescent mothers were less likely to take periconceptional folic acid (9.2%) and more likely to report unintended pregnancy (62.0%) than older women. Overall, women who said that their pregnancy was intended were more likely to report that they had taken periconceptional folic acid (odds ratio: 4.75; 95% confidence interval: 3.16-7.14); after controlling for maternal age and income the odds ratio was 3.70 (95% confidence interval: 2.38-5.56).


Women whose pregnancies were intended were more likely to have been taking periconceptional folic acid than women whose pregnancies were unintended. The importance of fertile women's taking daily multivitamins that contain 400 microg (0.4 mg) of folic acid should be stressed among women who are not contemplating pregnancy, especially adolescents and low-income women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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