Open Access Monitoring of the folic acid supplementation program in the Netherlands

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In November of 1993, the Dutch government recommended daily folic acid supplementation of 0.4 or 0.5 mg for all women planning pregnancy, starting 4 weeks before conception until 8 weeks after. In 1995, a one-time mass media campaign was conducted, and due to this campaign, the use of folic acid in this recommended period increased from 4.8% in 1995 to 21% in 1996. Subsequently, no structural strategies were undertaken until 2003, and at that time, 22% of lower-educated women used folic acid in the recommended period. The prevalence of neural tube defects (NTD) decreased from 11.44/10,000 before the official recommendations to 6.52/10,000 thereafter. Currently, community pharmacies proactively approach women before their first pregnancy on the subject of folic acid supplementation. This is done by means of a sticker placed on packages of oral contraceptives with the text "Child wish?". Ask for information about folic acid in your pharmacy," and a brochure (leaflet) containing detailed information about folic acid. ("Child wish" refers to women who plan to become pregnant.) Data from an explorative, comparative study strongly suggest that this intervention is effective. Sustainable education programs through which women are informed repeatedly to take folic acid supplements during the periconceptional period are urgently needed.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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