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.