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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2011 Winter;72(4):197-200. doi: 10.3148/72.4.2011.197.

Knowledge and use of folic acid in women of reproductive age.

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Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.


Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects. As approximately 50% of pregnancies are unintended, women of reproductive age should be aware of the importance of folic acid. We reviewed the existing literature on these women's knowledge of folic acid and neural tube defects. Databases searched were PubMed, CINAHL, and Health Reference Center Academic. We used terms such as "folic acid knowledge" and "folic acid awareness" to search articles published from 1998 to 2010. Awareness of the benefits of folic acid before conception and during pregnancy was low, although knowledge levels were associated with education and household income. Women who were already knowledgeable about folic acid cited health care professionals, magazines and newspapers, and radio and television as common sources of information. Effective knowledge translation is needed to ensure that women are informed about the benefits of folic acid during the reproductive years. This knowledge will allow them to make informed decisions about folic acid consumption. Health care professionals play an influential role in promoting folic acid knowledge among women of childbearing age. Lower levels of knowledge among women with lower levels of education and/or household income must be addressed.

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