Knowledge of Neural Tube Defects and Prevention Through Folic Acid Use Among Women in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Shazia Yasmin, Ayesha Siddiqa, Lauren Rockliffe, Jaleel Miyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Neural tube defects (NTDs) are one of the most common congenital abnormalities of the central nervous system and are associated with significant mortality, morbidity, and major life-long disability. Periconceptional folic acid reduces the risk of NTDs by up to 70%; however, in Pakistan, no public information program exists concerning the risks of NTDs or promoting folic acid use. As such, the aim of this study was to assess levels of knowledge about NTDs and folic acid use among women attending the gynaecology department of DHQ Hospital, Faisalabad, Pakistan. Design: A cross-sectional survey. Setting: The gynaecology department of the District Head Quarter (DHQ) Hospital in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Participants: Three hundred and fifty-five married women. Primary and Secondary Outcome Measures: Primary outcome measures included knowledge of NTDs and knowledge of folic acid use. Results: About 85.4% of participants had no knowledge of neural tube defects and 76.7% reported no knowledge about folic acid use. The majority of participants (86.2%) were unaware that folic acid protects against NTDs. Lack of knowledge of NTDs was significantly associated with education (P = 0.001), husband’s education (P = 0.002), planned pregnancy (P = 0.002), sources of antenatal care (P = 0.003), knowledge of folic acid (P = 003), knowledge that folic acid protects against NTDs (P = 0.002), and health decision-making (P = 0.003). Knowledge of folic acid use was significantly associated with age (P = 0.000), education (P = 0.004), husband’s education (P = 0.002), monthly income (P = 0.003), planned pregnancy (P = 0.003), pregnancy trimester (P < 0.001), sources of antenatal care (P < 0.001), knowledge of NTDs (P = 0.002), knowledge that folic acid protects against NTDs (P < 0.001), use of folic acid (P < 0.001), sources of vitamin information (P < 0.001), and health decision-making (P = 0.002). Conclusion: These findings highlight extremely low levels of knowledge about NTDs and folic acid use of women in Pakistan. There is an urgent need to increase knowledge and awareness of the risks of NTDs and preventative approaches, through health education programs delivered by trusted health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-434
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • folic acid
  • health education
  • knowledge
  • neural tube defects

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