Folate and folic acid in the periconceptional period: recommendations from official health organizations in thirty-six countries worldwide and WHO

Sandra Gomes, Carla Lopes, Elisabete Pinto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objective To summarize the recommendations on folate intake and folic acid supplementation and fortification in the periconceptional period, aimed at prevention of neural tube defects (NTD), provided by official health organizations in different countries worldwide and WHO. Design Information on recommendations for folate and folic acid intake in the periconceptional period was gathered from the websites of official national health organizations of several countries worldwide and from the WHO website. Setting WHO, selected developed countries and emerging economies, totalling thirty-six countries worldwide (some European, BRICS, G8, Asian Tiger/Asian Dragon and Australia). Results Recommendations differ between countries, although the majority (69·4 %) recommend a healthy diet plus a folic acid supplement of 400 Âg/d from preconception (4-12 weeks) until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy (8-12 weeks). The same recommendation is issued by the WHO. Dosages for women at high risk of NTD are up to 4-5 mg/d (for 41·7 % of studied countries). The recommended intake for folate is in the range of 300-400 Âg/d for women of childbearing age and 500-600 Âg/d for pregnant women in different countries and WHO. Five countries emphasize the importance of a healthy diet rendering supplementation needless. By contrast, five others advise a healthy diet and supplementation plus mandatory fortification. Only one mentions the importance of ensuring an adequate folate status and refers to checking with a health-care provider on the need for supplements. Conclusions Different recommendations regarding folate and folic acid, seeking NTD prevention, are available worldwide; however, most countries and WHO focus on a healthy diet and folic acid supplementation of 400 Âg/d periconceptionally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-189
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Folate
  • Folic acid
  • Neural tube defects
  • Official health organizations' recommendations
  • Periconceptional period

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