OBJECTIVE: It is recommended women take folic acid supplements prior to conceiving to reduce possibility of neural tube defects. This analysis sought to examine the extent of folic acid usage in women seeking to conceive.
DESIGN: Recruitment for a large, UK based, seeking to conceive study (NCT03424590) required women to complete a screening survey to determine whether they were eligible for the study. Adverts were placed on social media platforms and websites popular with women seeking to conceive inviting women aged 18-40 who were wishing to become pregnant to apply. The adverts allowed women to click through to the screening survey, which collected age, length of time trying to conceive and asked the potential volunteers whether they were currently taking folic acid.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: From January 2 2018 to May 2 2018, 11788 surveys were completed, of which 11478 included an answer to the question on folic acid use.
RESULTS: Only 58.9% of women interested in participating in a seeking to conceive study were taking folic acid. Prevalence of usage varied with age; 31.8% for <18 (n=22), 46.7% for 18-24 (n=2638), 61.1% for 25-34 (n=6913), 68.7% for 35-40 (n=1833), 58.9% for >40 (n=72). Women who were planning to begin trying in the next couple of months were lowest users of folic acid (36.2%, n=878), but for those women actively trying, there was no relationship between length of time trying and folic acid use; 61.7% (n=2453) for <3 months, 63.3% (n=2595) for 3-6months, 59.2% (n=1879) for 7-12 months, 59.6% (n=1890) for 1-2 years, 62.5% (n=915) for 2-3 years and 54.7% (n=877) for >3 years.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite well publicized campaigns in the UK encouraging women to take folic acid pre-conception, over 40% of women seeking to conceive are not taking supplements. This is especially true of younger women, suggesting that different media may be required to get the message to younger conceivers.