A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between Maternal Folic Acid Supplementation and the Risk of Congenital Heart Defects

Int Heart J. 2016 Dec 2;57(6):725-728. doi: 10.1536/ihj.16-054. Epub 2016 Nov 9.


Controversial opinions exist with respect to the relationship between maternal folic acid (FA) supplementation and birth prevalence of congenital heart defects (CHDs).Eligible articles were retrieved by searching databases, including PubMed, Cochrane library, EMBASE, CNKI, and WanFang up to September 2015. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the effects of FA on CHDs. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence interval (CIs) were merged using STATA 12.0. Meta-regression analysis was used to explore the possible sources of heterogeneity. Subgroup analysis according to the selected sources was also performed. Publication bias was assessed by Egger's test.Twenty studies were included in the meta-analysis. The overall analysis showed that FA supplementation was significantly associated with decreased risk of CHDs. The meta-regression analysis showed that geographical area could be an important source of heterogeneity. The subgroup analysis based on the geographical area revealed that FA supplementation during pregnancy was a protective factor against CHDs in Chinese and European patients, but not in American patients. Subgroup analysis according to literature quality also displayed positive associations between FA supplementation and the decreased risk of CHDs of China.FA supplementation during pregnancy significantly decreases the risk of CHDs in newborns in China and Europe.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid