Few Danish pregnant women follow guidelines on periconceptional use of folic acid

Dan Med J. 2015 Mar;62(3):A5019.


Introduction: Approximately 60-70 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects (NTD) in Denmark annually. Folic acid (FA) deficiency can cause NTD. Periconceptional FA supplementation reduces the risk of NTD by up to 70-80%. Danish women planning pregnancy are recommended 0.4 mg of FA daily from at least one month before planned conception and continuing throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The aim of the present study was to examine the knowledge about and use of FA supplementation among Danish pregnant women.

Methods: From 11 October 2012 to 15 November 2012, all women attending for a routine nuchal translucency scan were given a questionnaire regarding their knowledge and use of FA supplementation during their current pregnancy.

Results: A total of 462 women answered the questionnaire. 95% had taken FA supplements at some point during their pregnancy, but only 10.4% as recommended. More than 80% stated knowledge about recommendations before the current pregnancy. Positive predictors of knowledge were: age > 30 years, multiparity, Danish origin and education > 3 years.

Conclusion: Despite national recommendations on periconceptional FA supplementation, our study showed that women do not follow these recommendations. Especially women with a low socio-economic status were likely to lack knowledge about FA supplementation in relation to pregnancy. There is a need for revision of the existing national recommendations and for other initiatives aiming to improve women's intake of FA, including FA fortification of flour and/or other food products.

Funding: not relevant.

Trial registration: The study was approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (No.: 01855 HVH-2012-044).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Denmark
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Parity
  • Preconception Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid