Awareness of folic acid for neural tube defect prevention among Israeli women

Sigal Ringel, Eliezer Lahat, Tamara Elizov, Revital Greenberg, Shlomo Arieli, Rachel Afriat, Matitiahu Berkovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The failure of neural tube closure during early embryogenesis results in a range of neural tube defects (NTD), the most common of which is spina bifida. The role of folic acid in reducing the rate of NTD has been well-established. Three recent cases of infants with NTD inspired this investigative study into the level of awareness and knowledge of folic acid and its function in the prevention of NTD among israeli women. Of 920 women interviewed, only 51 (5.5%) had heard of folic acid, and 27 (2.8%) were reported to have taken it. The source of information and the motivation for self-medication were also explored with regard to socioeconomic and health profile. Awareness of folic acid was significant among women aged 17-29 years (P = 0.005) and those aged 30-39 years (P = 0.009), and among semireligious and nonreligious women (P = 0.008 and 0.01, respectively). Among women who were aware of folic acid, only nonreligious women tended to take it. No correlation was found between folic acid intake and age, religiosity, nationality, number of pregnancies, and health status among women who were aware of folic acid intake. The poor level of awareness, evident in our study, demands that the medical community broadcast the benefit of folic acid. Furthermore, government health initiatives, such as the addition of folic acid to flour preparations, may effectively ensure its appropriate daily intake. These improved education and prevention programs may forcibly reduce the rate of NTD-affected pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-32
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


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