Folic acid supplementation and social deprivation

Caroline L Relton, Donna M Hammal, Judith Rankin, Louise Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To assess the use of folic acid supplementation in relation to small-area measures of social deprivation.

DESIGN: Cohort study.

SETTING: Antenatal clinic, Women's Outpatients Services, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, UK.

SUBJECTS: Four hundred and fifty women attending their 18-week antenatal clinic appointment. No selection criteria were applied. Townsend scores were allocated using postcodes to provide a small-area measure (enumeration district) of social deprivation.

RESULTS: Eighty-nine per cent of women took folic acid prior to their 18-week antenatal clinic appointment; 48% of women took folic acid before 4 weeks of gestation. Younger women and more socially deprived women were less likely to use folic acid supplements before 4 weeks of gestation. Women with a family history of neural tube defects were no more likely to take folic acid than were women with no family history of neural tube defects.

CONCLUSION: A high proportion of women reported taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy but less than half took them at the most important time in early pregnancy. Younger women and women who were more socio-economically deprived were much less likely to take folic acid during the critical periconceptional period. Future strategies should promote prenatal folic acid supplementation in women under the age of 24 and in women of low socio-economic status. Further attention should also be given to the use of folic acid supplements in women with a family history of neural tube defects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-40
Number of pages3
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Folic Acid
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Tube Defects
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Questionnaires
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors

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