Topical Area: Global Nutrition
Objectives : To determine the prevalence of folic acid supplement use and associated maternal characteristics in Vietnam.
Methods : A multicentre cohort study to which logistics regression analyses were used to explore factors that determined whether folic acid was taken. Folic acid usage was assessed via face-to-face interviews with 2,030 pregnant women at 24-28th week of gestation in Hanoi, Haiphong and Hochiminh City, Vietnam during 2015-2017. Given that the multivitamin supplements available in Vietnam contain folic acid, the first binary outcome variable was defined as the use of either folic acid or multivitamin supplements for the entire first six months of pregnancy (1 = regular user, 0 = non-regular user). The second binary outcome variable was defined as the use of folic acid supplement only for the entire first six months of pregnancy (1 = regular user, 0 = non-regular user). For both outcomes, the ‘non-regular user’ group included participants who never consumed the supplement (non-users) and those users who took the tablets for less than the six-month pregnancy period. Information on maternal characteristics was also obtained during the baseline interview, including age, formal employment, education level, parity, pre-pregnancy BMI, and planned pregnancy.
Results : The proportions of pregnant women who reported getting folic acid for the entire first six months of pregnancy was low at 25.8% for either folic acid or multivitamin supplements, and 20.1% for folic acid supplements only. This means that almost 75-80% of mothers did not take folic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy, leaving almost all Vietnamese mothers unprotected against neural tube defects. Women aged 30-34 years and those with low education levels, formal employment, first or unplanned pregnancy, were less likely to consume these supplements.
Conclusions : The results show that the number of women taking folic acid in the early stages of pregnancy is low. In order to prevent neural tube defects for all Vietnamese children, improved policies are needed for the distribution of folic acid tablets and health promotion campaigns targeting these vulnerable subgroups of women for usage and adherence are recommended.
Funding Sources :
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.