Folic acid knowledge and use among relatives in Irish families with neural tube defects: an intervention study

Ir J Med Sci. 2003 Jul-Sep;172(3):118-22. doi: 10.1007/BF02914495.


Background: Relatives in families where a child has a neural tube defect (NTD) may be at higher risk of having an affected child. Little is known of their level of knowledge and use of folic acid.

Aim: To carry out an intervention study intended to increase knowledge and use of folic acid among relatives.

Methods: One hundred aunts and female first cousins (relatives of the proband) were interviewed by telephone before and after receiving an information pack.

Results: At baseline, although knowledge of the benefits of folic acid was high (73%), use of folic acid was low (8.8%). After the intervention, knowledge increased and use went up to 19% (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: This study suggests that relatives in Irish NTD families have a high level of information about folic acid benefits. This awareness may not translate into action since the intervention produced only a modest increase in folic acid use overall. Future studies focussing on women who are planning a pregnancy may show larger benefits from intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*


  • Folic Acid