Many Pregnant Women Have Not Taken Folic Acid to Reduce Neural Tube Defects

Prof. Nicholas J. Wald Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry Queen Mary University of London London, United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Nicholas J. Wald
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine
Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Queen Mary University of London
London, United Kingdom

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Prof Wald: The percentage of women who become pregnant without having taken folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect declined from a relatively low proportion (35%) to an even lower one (31%) between 1999 and 2012.

Moreover such use of folic acid in some groups of the population is much lower for example 17% in Afro-Caribbean women and 6% in women aged under 20.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Prof Wald: Only about half of women who had already had a neural tube defect pregnancy took folic acid supplements prior to their current pregnancy – a group at much higher risk

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof Wald: The main takeaway message is directed to public health authorities and governments rather than clinicians or patients.

The main message for clinicians and patients is that many women who have already had a neural tube defect pregnancy are not receiving folic acid supplements before pregnancy and these should be routinely offered and prescribed to all such women.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof Wald: The message of this paper is not further research, but further action needed.
Citation:

Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: A Cross-Sectional Study of the Uptake of Folic Acid Supplementation in Nearly Half a Million Women

Jonathan P. Bestwick, Wayne J. Huttly, Joan K. Morris, Nicholas J. Wald Research Article | published 19 Feb 2014 | PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0089354