Folic acid prevents neural tube defects: International comparison of awareness among obstetricians/gynecologists and urologists

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Abstract

Aim

It has been suggested that periconceptional intake of folic acid prevents risks of having fetuses afflicted with neural tube defects. We aim to internationally investigate knowledge of the role of folic acid and attitudes toward the life-style of young women of child-bearing age among obstetricians/gynecologists and urologists.

Methods

A questionnaire was sent to obstetricians/gynecologists and urologists residing in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand by post or e-mail. The investigation was conducted between December 2002 and November 2004.

Results

A mean of 91% of obstetricians/gynecologists and 56% of urologists are aware of the role of folic acid, where Asian urologists knew less compared to those of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. A majority of doctors always, or occasionally, recommend folic acid supplements or multivitamins, well-balanced meals, and the cessation of smoking and drinking. An average of 85% of doctors believes information on folic acid should be disseminated to young women.

Conclusions

A majority of obstetricians/gynecologists and urologists know the importance of periconceptional folic acid in reducing the risk of neural tube defects and have been advising young women to improve their lifestyle.

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