What is the global prevalence of folate deficiency?

Updated: Nov 03, 2020
  • Author: Katherine Coffey-Vega, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Nearly every country in the western hemisphere has mandatory folic acid flour fortification, and most European countries have policies recommending folic acid supplementation prior to conception and for the first 3 months of pregnancy. [22]  Flour fortification with folic acid has been shown to result in significant improvements in folate status among women of reproductive age, in areas where folate deficiency is high. [23]

Casey et al examined the effects over 1 year of a free weekly iron-folic acid supplementation and deworming program in 52,000 Vietnamese women of childbearing age. [24] The investigators collected demographic data and blood and stool samples at baseline and at 3 and 12 months following the implementation of the program.

Findings included a mean Hb increase of 9.6 g/L (P < 0.001) and a reduction in the presence of anemia from 37.5% of the women at baseline to 19.3% at 12 months. [24] Iron deficiency was also reduced, from 22.8% at baseline to 9.3% by 12 months, as well as hookworm infection (76.2% at baseline to 23.0%) in the same period.

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