Use of Family History Information for Neural Tube Defect Prevention: Integration into State-based Recurrence Prevention Programs

Authors: Green, Ridgely Fisk; Ehrhardt, Joan; Ruttenber, Margaret F.; Olney, Richard S.

Source: American Journal of Health Education, 1 September 2011, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 296-308(13)


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Background: A family history of neural tube defects (NTDs) can increase the risk of a pregnancy affected by an NTD. Periconceptional folic acid use decreases this risk. Purpose: Our objective was to determine whether second-degree relatives of NTD-affected children showed differences in folic acid use compared with the general population and to provide them with folic acid education. Methods: Michigan and Colorado health workers contacted families with a previous pregnancy or child affected by an NTD, identified through NTD recurrence prevention programs. Families were interviewed to identify the number of second-degree relatives of child-bearing age. Families mailed surveys to these relatives, who returned them to the state health departments. The survey assessed folic acid use, views on having an affected child, and reproductive planning. Folic acid education materials were sent to relatives who provided contact information. Results: Folic acid supplement use among relatives was similar to that of the general population, despite elevated risk perceptions. Discussion: Both state health departments plan to increase efforts to contact affected families and their relatives through partnerships with family support groups. Translation to Health Education Practice: Including outreach to second-degree relatives in NTD recurrence prevention programs could increase the impact of these programs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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