MONDAY, June 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Among an urban, low-income minority population, few women started folic acid supplementation before pregnancy, according to a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Tina L. Cheng, M.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, and colleagues examined maternal folic acid supplementation and plasma folate concentrations in the Boston Birth Cohort (1999 to 2014), a predominantly urban, low-income, minority population (7,612 subjects). The authors used an interview questionnaire to obtain folic acid supplementation during preconception and each trimester, and maternal plasma folate concentrations were measured in blood samples from 2,598 women within a few days of delivery.

The researchers found that the percentage of mothers taking folic acid supplementation almost daily was 4.3 percent during preconception, 55.9 percent during the first trimester, 59.4 percent during the second, and 58 percent during the third. There was a wide range of maternal plasma folate concentrations, with approximately 11 percent insufficient (<13.4 nmol/L) and 23 percent elevated (>45.3 nmol/L).

“Approximately one-third of mothers had either too low or too high plasma folate levels, which may have important health consequences on both the mother and the child,” the authors write.

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