[Preventing neural tube defects with periconceptional folic acid supplementation: a population-based intervention program in the China].Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2000 Jul; 80(7):493-8.ZY
To evaluate the effectiveness of periconceptional use of 400 microgram folic acid only on the prevention of neural tube defects (NTDs).
As part of a public health campaign in areas of high (North) and low (South) NTDs prevalence in the China during 1993 and 1995, 130 142 pill takers and 117 689 non-pill takers were recruited. Women were asked to begin taking a pill containing only 400 microgram of folic acid daily from the time of their premarital examination until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. The outcomes of these pregnancies were ascertained through 1996.
We identified 102 NTDs among offspring of pill takers and 173 NTDs among offspring of non-pill takers. The NTDs rate in offspring of non-pill takers was 4.8 per thousand (16/3 318) and 1.0 per thousand (28/28 625) in the south; while the rate in pill takers was 1.0 per thousand (13/13 012) in the north and 0.6 per thousand in the south. The greatest reduction in risk occurred among the fetuses or infants of a subgroup of women in the northern region with periconceptional use who took pills more than 80 percent of the time (reduction in risk, 85 percent as compared with the fetuses or infants of women who registered before their last menstrual period and who took no folic acid; 95 percent confidence interval, 62 to 94 percent). In the southern region the reduction in risk among the fetuses or infants of women with periconceptional use of folic acid was also significant (reduction in risk, 41 percent; 95% confidence interval, 3 to 64 percent).
Periconceptional intake of supplements containing only 400 microgram folic acid can reduce the risk for NTDs in areas of high and low NTDs prevalence.