Background: To decrease the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), the Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) issued guidelines in August 2000 recommending daily folic acid (FA) supplementation for women in their childbearing age, and concurrently launched a national FA campaign. Campaign effects were assessed by comparing the results of a survey done in 2002 with a baseline survey done in June 2000.
Methods: Both surveys were done within the network of the Public Health Services' Mother and Child Health Clinics (MCHC). Nursing staff conducted structured interviews of pregnant women and mothers of newborn infants.
Results: In the 2002 survey (n = 1661), awareness was 85%, correct knowledge was 77.7% and 30.5% utilized FA preconceptionally. Ratios of awareness, knowledge and utilization were highest among women with post-university education (93%, 84%, 46%), and awareness and utilization were significantly higher in the 25-29 year age bracket (90%, 35%). In the baseline 2000 survey (n = 1719), FA awareness had been 54.6%, knowledge of the benefits of FA was 17.6% and preconceptional utilization was reported by a mere 5.2%.
Conclusions: A national periconceptional FA campaign in Israel resulted in significant increases in awareness and correct knowledge, and a sixfold increase in its intake.