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Eur J Med Genet. 2006 Nov-Dec;49(6):461-5. Epub 2006 Jul 26.

Are the recommendations on the prevention of neural tube defects working?

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  • 1Laboratoire de Génétique Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, 11, rue Humann, 67085 Strasbourg cedex, France.


Many studies showed that reduction by an estimated 80% or more of neural tube defects (NTD) by consumption of folic acid from before conception is achievable. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effectiveness of recommendations on folic acid aimed at reducing the occurrence of NTD in our region. Cases of NTD were ascertained among liveborn infants, stillbirths, and terminations of pregnancy. Incidences and trends in rates of NTD before and after 1992 (the year of the first recommendations) and before and after 1995 (the year of local recommendations) were obtained. The results showed that the issuing of recommendations on folic acid was followed by no detectable improvement in the trends of incidence of NTD. The rates of NTD per 10,000 were before 1992 9.07, from 1993 to 1995 8.14, and after 1995 10.62, respectively. The incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were not different from 1.00. In conclusion new cases preventable by folic acid continue to accumulate. Recommendations alone did not influence trends in NTD in our country up to 11 years after the confirmation of the effectiveness of folic acid in clinical trials. New strategies are needed.

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