Folate knowledge and consumer behaviour among pregnant New Zealand women prior to the potential introduction of mandatory fortification.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2012; 21(3):440-9.AP
To reduce the risk of neural tube defects, the New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends women take supplemental folic acid from at least one month preconception until the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy, as well as consume folate-rich foods. A postpartum survey was conducted to describe folate knowledge and consumer behaviour among pregnant New Zealand women prior to the potential implementation of mandatory folic acid fortification of bread in May 2012. Increasing knowledge of folic acid recommendations was associated with higher supplement uptake among women who planned their pregnancies (p=0.001 for linear trend). Folic acid information failed to adequately reach some socio-demographic subgroups before conception, even when pregnancy was planned, including: indigenous Maori, Pacific and Asian women, younger women, women with large families, and women with lower educational attainment and income. Only half of all women surveyed knew some bread contained added folic acid, and among these women, less than 2% consistently chose voluntarily fortified bread during the periconceptional period by inspecting labels. Sixty-one percent of women indicated they were either in favour of mandatory fortification, or held no opinion on the matter, while 4% were opposed to the addition of folic acid to bread. Approximately one-third (35%) of women agreed with voluntary fortification. Future health promotion initiatives should be tailored toward women who are younger, less educated, with lower income, multiparous or of minority ethnicity status. Nonetheless, mandatory folic acid fortification may be required to attain the desired degree of equity.