According to Dr. Pham Thi Trang Nha, though folic acid plays a crucial role, people have not been paid enough attention to take it, especially pregnant women or those of childbearing age. When the baby is developing early during pregnancy, folic acid helps form the neural tube. Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby's brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida). Fetuses that suffer from folic acid deficiency are at greater risk of specific birth defects — called neural tube defects — that affect the brain and spine.
Each year around the world, about 300,000 babies are born with neural tube defects, leading to about 88,000 deaths. Studies in many parts of the world show that the percentage of women who have correct knowledge about folic acid or use folic acid before pregnancy is still low. Studies in Vietnam also show the same.
Research results at Hoc Mon Regional General Hospital show that 93.7 percent of pregnant women have heard or read about folic acid; moreover, 81.4 percent of pregnant women were advised to take folic acid by medical staff.
The percentage of pregnant women with correct knowledge about folic acid is quite high with 84.1 percent while 96 percent answered correctly about the benefits of folic acid and how to prevent birth defects, and 95.3 percent knew the consequences when pregnant. folic acid deficiency and 81.8 percent know the reason for the folic acid deficiency.
However, the percentage of pregnant women who answered correctly about food groups rich in folic acid was very low, only 16.6 percent. Most pregnant women have the right attitude about folic acid supplements with 98.6 percent.
Regrettably, 51.2 percent of pregnant women believe that only older women who are over 35 years old need to take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. Notably, only 36.2 percent of the study respondents understood that folic acid supplements should be taken at least one month before pregnancy and maintained continuously until the first three months of pregnancy.
More than 99 percent of pregnant women claim to have taken folic acid. However, only 15.9 percent of them take the drug at least one month before pregnancy and maintain it until the end of the first three months of pregnancy, said Dr. Pham Thi Trang Nha.