Knowledge and practice of folic acid supplementation and impact of income level on awareness among women of child-bearing age in Saudi Arabia
Purpose: To investigate the knowledge of Saudi women (pregnant and non-pregnant) about the significance of folic acid (FA) supplementation and to determine how income levels affects this knowledge and its implementation.
Methods: The study was conducted among women of child-bearing age attending Al-Hada Armed Forces Hospital and Khaliss General Hospital (both in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) for pregnant women and Omm Al-Qura University in Makkah Governorate (Saudi Arabia) for non-pregnant women. A structured questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic data and to analyze levels of FA knowledge, including general awareness, proper timing of its use, information source, FA benefits, and the perils of FA deficiency. A chi-square test was performed to test the differences between variables.
Results: Analysis of the survey data revealed that 81.1 % of non–pregnant and 91.1 % of pregnant women were aware of the term, FA (p < 0.05). Moreover, 71.1 % of the pregnant compared to 35.6% of non-pregnant women knew that this supplement must be taken before becoming pregnant and this difference was statistically significant (p < 0.05). For pregnant women, doctors and previous pregnancies were the main sources of FA knowledge, while mass media was the most frequently reported source for non-pregnant women (p < 0.05). Income level was not associated with FA knowledge in either group.
Conclusions: This study illustrates a deficiency in the knowledge and consumption of this important micronutrient in women of childbearing age, the population most in need of this information. Nutrition education should be provided to increase the understanding and practice of FA supplementation periconceptionally and during pregnancy.
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