Prevention of Neural-Tube Defects with Periconceptional Folic Acid, Methylfolate, or Multivitamins?
ABSTRACT To review the main results of intervention trials which showed the efficacy of periconceptional folic acid-containing multivitamin and folic acid supplementation in the prevention of neural-tube defects (NTD).
The main findings of 5 intervention trials are known: (i) the efficacy of a multivitamin containing 0.36 mg folic acid in a UK nonrandomized controlled trial resulted in an 83-91% reduction in NTD recurrence, while the results of the Hungarian (ii) randomized controlled trial and (iii) cohort-controlled trial using a multivitamin containing 0.8 mg folic acid showed 93 and 89% reductions in the first occurrence of NTD, respectively. On the other hand, (iv) another multicenter randomized controlled trial proved a 71% efficacy of 4 mg folic acid in the reduction of recurrent NTD, while (v) a public health-oriented Chinese-US trial showed a 41-79% reduction in the first occurrence of NTD depending on the incidence of NTD.
Translational application of these findings could result in a breakthrough in the primary prevention of NTD, but so far this is not widely applied in practice. The benefits and drawbacks of 4 main possible uses of periconceptional folic acid/multivitamin supplementation, i.e. (i) dietary intake, (ii) periconceptional supplementation, (iii) flour fortification, and (iv) the recent attempt for the use of combination of oral contraceptives with 6S-5-methytetrahydrofolate (methylfolate), are discussed. Obviously, prevention of NTD is much better than the frequent elective termination of pregnancies after prenatal diagnosis of NTD fetuses.
- DMW - Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 06/2012; 137(25/26):1366-1372. DOI:10.1055/s-0032-1305076 · 0.55 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Folic acid and iron supplementation has historically been recommended as the preferred anaemia control strategy among preschoolers in sub-Saharan Africa and other resource-poor settings, but home fortification of complementary foods with multiple micronutrient powders (MNPs) can now be considered the preferred approach. The World Health Organization endorses home fortification with MNPs containing at least iron, vitamin A and zinc to control childhood anaemia, and calls for concomitant malaria control strategies in malaria endemic regions. Among other micronutrients, current MNP formulations generally include 88 μg folic acid (corresponding to 100% of the Recommended Nutrient Intake). The risks and benefits of providing supplemental folic acid at these levels are unclear. The limited data available indicate that folate deficiency may not be a major public health problem among children living in sub-Saharan Africa and supplemental folic acid may therefore not have any benefits. Furthermore, supraphysiological, and possibly even physiological, folic acid dosages may favour Plasmodium falciparum growth, inhibit parasite clearance of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP)-treated malaria and increase subsequent recrudescence. Even though programmatic options to limit prophylactic SP use or to promote the use of insecticide treated bed nets may render the use of folic acid safer, programmatic barriers to these approaches are likely to persist. Research is needed to characterise the prevalence of folate deficiency among young children worldwide and to design safe MNP and other types of fortification approaches in sub-Sahara Africa. In parallel, updated global guidance is needed for MNP programmes in these regions.Maternal and Child Nutrition 11/2013; DOI:10.1111/mcn.12102 · 2.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This review article discusses the epidemiology, risk factors, prenatal screening, diagnosis, prevention potentials, and epidemiologic impact of neural tube defects (NTDs). The average incidence of NTDs is 1/1000 births, with a marked geographic variation. In the developed countries, the incidence of NTDs has fallen over recent decades. However, it still remains high in the less-developed countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Far East (>1 to 11/1000 births). Recognized NTDs risks include maternal diabetes, obesity, lower socioeconomic status, hyperthermia, and exposure to certain teratogens during the periconceptional period. Periconceptional folic acid supplementation decreased the prevalence of NTDs by 50-70%, and an obligatory folic acid fortification of food was adopted in several countries to reach women with unplanned pregnancies and those facing social deprivation. Prevention of NTDs can be accelerated if more, especially low income countries, adopted fortification of the staple food in their communities.Saudi medical journal 12/2014; 35(12):S15-28. · 0.55 Impact Factor