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Low Prevalence of Folic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy: A Multicenter Study in Vietnam

Ha, Anh Vo Van, Zhao, Yun, Binns, Colin W., Pham, Ngoc Minh, Nguyen, Cong Luat, Nguyen, Phung Thi Hoang, Chu, Tan Khac, Lee, Andy H.
Nutrients 2019 v.11 no.10
education programs, employment, folic acid, low educational status, neural tube defects, planning, pregnancy, pregnant women, Vietnam
Periconceptional folic acid (FA) supplementation is recommended to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs), but little information is known about its use in Vietnam. It is important that FA supplements start to be taken when planning a pregnancy and continued through the first trimester to prevent NTDs, as the neural tube closes in the first month of pregnancy. However, FA supplementation in Vietnam is usually recommended to commence from the first antenatal visit, which is usually at 16 weeks, and very few women take FA before their first visit. This multicenter study aimed to determine the prevalence of FA supplement use and associated maternal characteristics in Vietnam. FA supplementation was assessed in 2030 singleton pregnant women between 2015 and 2016. In total, 654 (32.2%) women reported taking either supplements containing FA alone or multivitamins containing FA, and 505 (24.9%) reported correctly taking supplements containing FA alone. Women who were aged 30 years or over, had low education levels, had formal employment, and whose current pregnancy was first or unplanned were less likely to supplement with FA. Education programs are needed to encourage FA supplementation when contemplating pregnancy.