[Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects: awareness and folate intake among pregnant women in 2006].Hinyokika Kiyo. 2008 Aug; 54(8):537-42.HK
Folic acid plays an important role in proliferating cells and tissues of the fetus. A randomized control trial demonstrated in 1991 that 4 mg of folic acid supplements successfully prevented 72% of recurrence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in women who had had afflicted pregnancy. In 2000, the Japanese Government recommended women of childbearing age to take 400 microgram of folate supplements per day from 4 weeks prior to and 12 weeks after conception. A questionnaire study was performed in pregnant women by post on their awareness of the role folic acid plays, their life style, and folate intake by dietary consumption. Thirty-five percent of 1,251 pregnant women were aware of the important role of folic acid in the critical stage of fetal development and 31% actually took the supplement. Information on folic acid was obtained through mass media in 47% of the women, through the internet in 17%, through healthcare providers in 13% and so forth. The food record analysis revealed that the dietary intake of folic acid averaged 341 microg/day that was 60 microg less than what was recommended by the Government and that 33 of 86 women took the supplement. Overall, a half of pregnant women are required to take 400 microg folate supplement per day. It is to be stressed that primary prevention of NTDs by periconceptional intake of folic acid is a major public health opportunity and that prevention is more important than cure in the management of NTDs.