Assessment of Turkish women's knowledge concerning folic acid and prevention of birth defects.Public Health Nutr 2004; 7(7):851-5PH
In Turkey, the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) is 30.1 per 10,000 births. For this reason it seems an important problem for women of childbearing age. Adequate periconceptional consumption of folic acid could prevent NTDs. Most women are unaware of this recommendation. The objectives of this study were to evaluate women' knowledge and beliefs with regard to folic acid, and to estimate the consumption frequency of vitamin supplements periconceptionally and during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Eight hundred and eighteen married women who had delivered a live-born infant within the previous 12 months completed the questionnaire. Each subject participated in a 20-minute interview, with the questionnaire comprising multiple-choice statements. A random sample of 10 public health centres was drawn from 27 in three districts in Konya where about 50% of the population lives.
Only 22% of subjects had heard or read about folic acid. Thirteen per cent of women indicated knowledge of the direct link between folic acid supplementation and NTD prevention. The knowledge was greatest among 26- to 35-year-olds. Women with a university degree were more likely to have heard about folic acid than were less-educated women.
The results indicate that further government efforts are needed to inform the population and promote the optimal use of folic acid supplements and folate-enriched foods. It is the responsibility of national authorities to increase health education concerning folic acid and the prevention of NTDs in their countries.