to examine the rate of periconceptional and optimal folic acid supplementation, and to characterise their patterns and determinants among antenatal women in central China.
data from 4290 women in the Anhui Birth Defects and Child Development Cohort Study recruited between October 2008 and September 2009 were analysed.
seven Maternal and Child Health Centres of two cities (Hefei and Maanshan) in Anhui province of central China.
women initiating prenatal care were included and asked to complete a structured questionnaire regarding folic acid supplementation.
sixty-eight per cent (2905/4290) of pregnant women reported taking folic acid supplementation periconceptionally (i.e. at some point before or during early pregnancy), and 32.8% (1405/4290) and 65.2% (2797/4290) had taken it before or during early pregnancy, respectively. However, only 16.1% (690/4290) used it optimally (i.e. regularly from four weeks before pregnancy throughout four weeks after pregnancy). Use of periconceptional folic acid was significantly associated with educational level, household income, registered residence, age, gestational age at recruitment, and planning of pregnancy.
optimal folic acid supplementation was relatively low.
further efforts are needed to inform the population and promote the use of folic acid supplementation.