Blood folate concentrations among women of childbearing age by race/ethnicity and acculturation, NHANES 2001-2010.Matern Child Nutr. 2016 Jan; 12(1):39-50.MC
Hispanic women have higher rates of neural tube defects and report lower total folic acid intakes than non-Hispanic white (NHW) women. Total folic acid intake, which is associated with neural tube defect risk reduction, has been found to vary by acculturation factors (i.e. language preference, country of origin, or time spent in the United States) among Hispanic women. It is unknown whether this same association is present for blood folate status. The objective of this research was to assess the differences in serum and red blood cell (RBC) folate concentrations between NHW women and Mexican American (MA) women and among MA women by acculturation factors. Cross-sectional data from the 2001-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used to investigate how blood folate concentrations differ among NHW or MA women of childbearing age. The impact of folic acid supplement use on blood folate concentrations was also examined. MA women with lower acculturation factors had lower serum and RBC folate concentrations compared with NHW women and to their more acculturated MA counterparts. Consuming a folic acid supplement can minimize these disparities, but MA women, especially lower acculturated MA women, were less likely to report using supplements. Public health efforts to increase blood folate concentrations among MA women should consider acculturation factors when identifying appropriate interventions.