Improper Supplementation Habits of Folic Acid Intake by Hungarian Pregnant Women: Improper Recommendations

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Neural tube defects (NTDs) are some of the most common congenital anomalies. Proper folic acid supplementation is a dominant risk factor, which has been shown to decrease the incidence of NTDs. In Canada, the incidence of neuroblastoma has presented a considerable decrease of 60% as a result of enrichment cereal grain flours with synthetic folic acid. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of folic acid intake by pregnant women on the incidence of NTDs and neuroblastoma. Methods: Regular folic acid intake has been recommended to pregnant women in Hungary since the eighties of the last century by health visitors eventually raking effect as an official protocol which had been released in 1997. During 2001, 2002 and 2003, folic acid intake habits of pregnant women were evaluated by health visitors, proving to be successful in collecting data from 95.06% of the pregnant women. The incidence of NTDs has been registered by the Hungarian National Centre of Epidemiology, Department of Human Genetics and Teratology. The Pediatric Cancer Registry provided the incidence of neuroblastoma in children. Results: Consistent findings revealed a regular intake of supplementary folic acid products by 68.71% of the pregnant women. Out of these, 93.13% of pregnant women who were taking folic acid, started the supplementation after their 7 weeks of pregnancies, a time designated as the completion period of the development of the neural tube. The dose of folic acid supplementation was evaluated as less than 5 mg/day in 84.75% of the pregnant women. In Hungary, the incidence of NTDs has remained constant, while the incidence of neuroblastoma has shown constant slight increase in spite of the introduction of folic acid supplementation in 1997. Conclusions: Based on our experience, folic acid supplementation was initiated after the recognition of pregnancy and its application in a dose of lower than 5 mg/day neither decreased the incidence of NTDs nor did it have an effect on the neuroblastoma incidence. It is implicated that proper folic acid supplementation, which is started from the conception, can be achieved only with the enrichment of cereal grain flours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - aug. 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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