2012. Rofail D et al. – Factors contributing to the success of folic acid public health campaigns


Rofail D, Colligs A, Abetz L, Lindemann M, Maguire L. Factors contributing to the success of folic acid public health campaigns. J Public Health (Oxf). 2012;34(1):90-9.


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BACKGROUND: Studies in the 1990s have found that periconceptional dietary folate, supplementation of folic acid or supplemental multivitamins containing folic acid, help prevent neural tube defect (NTDs) if taken at the right time. This literature review assesses the extant folic acid public health campaigns literature and identifies some common variables used in folic acid consumption campaign evaluations.

METHODS: This review was part of a larger study that searched PUBMED, PsycINFO and Embase from 1976 to 2010 to identify articles related to the psychosocial and economic impact of NTDs (especially spina bifida) on patients and caregivers.

RESULTS: Awareness of folic acid levels prior to conception improved post-campaign from 6 to 41%. Knowledge about consumption and correct periconceptional use of folic acid also improved. However, in most studies more than 50% of women did not take folic acid as prescribed. Many factors were associated with or without taking folic acid post-campaign, including incomplete outreach, prior awareness and knowledge, closeness to pregnancy, demographics and other personal characteristics.

CONCLUSIONS: Sustained campaigning to maintain awareness about and promote periconceptional consumption of folic acid in order to reduce the incidence of NTDs is clearly needed. Additional initiatives could complement existing public health strategies.