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J Public Health Med. 1997 Sep;19(3):328-32.

A survey of knowledge and use of folic acid among women of child-bearing age in Dublin.

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  • 1Health Information Unit, Eastern Health Board, Dr. Steeven's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.



The Medical Research Council vitamin trial highlighted the importance of folic acid in the prevention of neural tube defects. Since 1993, the Irish Department of Health has recommended periconceptional folic acid supplements. The objective of this study was to document the knowledge and behaviour of women in child-bearing years to periconceptional folic acid.


A cross-sectional community-based survey was conducted in Dublin using an interviewer administered questionnaire.


A total of 335 women took part in the study, a response rate of 84 per cent. Approximately two-thirds (213/ 335, 63.6 per cent) had heard of folic acid. Knowledge was significantly associated with higher social class and higher education (p < 0.05). Few (18/335, 5.4 per cent), had been advised to take folic acid before pregnancy. Only 9/335 (2.7 per cent) of the women in the study were currently taking folic acid supplements. Three-quarters (75.9 per cent) of the group would be willing to take periconceptional folic acid supplements if they believed it would reduce the risk of malformations. The majority (77.4 per cent) would prefer to take folic acid in tablet form rather than have it added to food.


This study shows that few women in child-bearing years in Dublin have been advised on folic acid, and very few are taking supplements. However, if advised appropriately the majority would be willing to take periconceptional folic acid in tablet form.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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