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Clinical Medicine Insights: Women's Health

Women’s Awareness of Periconceptional Use of Folic Acid Before and After Their Antenatal Visits

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Clinical Medicine Insights: Women's Health 2014:7 9-15

Original Research

Published on 01 May 2014

DOI: 10.4137/CMWH.S13535


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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to assess women’s awareness of the benefit and use of folic acid during pregnancy and to assess whether their knowledge has improved following hospital visits.

METHOD: This is a prospective survey conducted in a large teaching hospital in the UK. The survey questionnaire consisted of 28 questions about demographic variables, behavioral variables, and knowledge about folic acid and neural tube defects (NTDs).

RESULT: A total of 603 women participated in this study. Some of them attended for the first time and others had more than one visit, either in their current or previous pregnancies. In about 25% of cases, the pregnancy was not planned. Between 14 and 19% of the women of First and Two+ Visit groups consulted their doctor or other healthcare professional before conception. Nearly 98% of the women stated that they had heard of folic acid, but only 42–52% knew the medical condition it protects against. The main sources of information for women who were aware of folic acid were midwives and general practitioners. Nearly 90% of women who attended their first antenatal visit were taking folic acid. However, only 40% of women knew that they should take it before pregnancy, and only between 36 and 46% knew the dietary sources of folic acid, although about 84% know the foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. This study found that attending antenatal clinic has not increased women’s awareness about folic acid.

CONCLUSION: There is still a high proportion of women who do not know that folic acid should be taken before pregnancy and continued for the first three months of pregnancy. School education, primary care team, and family planning service should take the lead in providing information to women about folic acid.



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