Promotion of folate for the prevention of neural tube defects: knowledge and use of periconceptional folic acid supplements in Western Australia, 1992 to 1995.Aust N Z J Public Health 1997; 21(7):716-21AN
To assess changes in knowledge and use of folic acid supplements in relation to a statewide health promotion project for the prevention of neural tube defects, we surveyed general practitioners, pharmacists, women of child-bearing age and pregnant women in Western Australia. We also collected data on wholesale sales of folic acid supplements. By the end of the project, 56.5 per cent of general practitioner respondents knew that the recommended dose of folic acid was 0.5 mg and 70 per cent offered folic acid supplements to women planning pregnancy, 82.5 per cent of responding pharmacists knew the recommended dose, and 87.5 per cent reported an increase in sales of 0.5 mg folic acid. Wholesale sales of 0.5 mg folic acid increased markedly in Western Australia compared with other states. From shopping centre surveys of women of child-bearing age we estimated that their knowledge of the association between folate and spina bifida increased from 8.2 per cent before the project to 67.5 per cent 2.5 years later, and doctors were a major source of information for women. In a 1995 survey of a sample of pregnant women, 43.1 per cent with planned pregnancies had taken folic acid supplements periconceptionally, compared with 19.1 per cent in a similar survey in 1993.