The findings indicate that folic acid knowledge and consumption rose from 1997 to 2003, but then declined from 2003 to 2006. During the first period, the prevalence of neural tube defects fell, whereas no significant change occurred during the second period.
Specifically, in 1997, just 22.4 percent of women were aware that folic acid is recommended to prevent birth defects and only 20.2 percent of women used folic acid supplements.
By 2003, the corresponding percentages rose to 72.0 percent and 30.9 percent, but by 2006 they dropped to 56.5 percent and 24.8 percent. As in the first study, women between 18 and 24 years of age were the least likely to use folic acid supplements.
"These findings warrant the continued promotion of folic acid consumption among all women of childbearing age and especially among women aged 18 to 24 years," authors of the first report conclude. "Folic acid education that promotes consumption of folic acid from various sources, in addition to foods rich in folate, can increase the possibility of all women consuming the recommended daily amount of 400 micrograms."
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 11, 2008.