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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MILLA, Gayle R. et al. Postpartum women in the Honduran health system: folic acid knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2007, vol.22, n.5, pp. 340-347. ISSN 1020-4989.

OBJECTIVES: This study had two purposes: first, to determine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to folic acid and birth defects among a convenience sample of postpartum Honduran women; and second, to identify food consumption patterns in this population and determine high-consumption staples for potential folic acid fortification. METHODS: Convenience sampling methodology was used to recruit potential study participants. Participants for this study were 2 619 postpartum Honduran women who had had a normal, in-hospital delivery in one of 16 public hospitals located throughout the country or the two social security hospitals that provide services to the Honduran working class population. Over a 10-month period, in-depth, face-to-face oral interviews, supervised by the research coordinator and staff, were conducted in-hospital prior to discharge. RESULTS: The majority of the women were between 16 and 29 years of age. Approximately half of the respondents (46.4%) had heard of folic acid and over one-third (37.6%) knew that it was a vitamin related to preventing birth defects. Birth defects were most often attributed to drug and alcohol use (20.6%) and lack of vitamin intake (18.1%), but 23.0% related defects to mystical, mythical, or religious causes. Aside from red beans, oranges, and natural fruit juices, folate-rich foods are not widely consumed by this population. The highest consumption frequency of staple foods with the potential to be fortified with folic acid were rice, white flour, corn flour, and pasta. CONCLUSIONS: Results from this study provide potential avenues for food fortification, as well as underscore the need for further education about the role of folic acid in the prevention of neural tube defects. Results highlight that standardized health education for Honduran women of reproductive age is needed if folic acid consumption through fortification and supplementation is to be successful and sustainable.

Keywords : Folic acid; prenatal nutrition physiology; neural tube defects; Honduras.

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