SAGE Open Med. 2022 Aug 22;10:20503121221118987. doi: 10.1177/20503121221118987. eCollection 2022.
OBJECTIVE: Folate is an essential vitamin for de novo DNA synthesis and cell proliferation. Folate insufficiency at the time of conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with unintended pregnancy and birth outcomes, particularly neural tube defects. Hence, this study aimed to assess folate status and associated factors of folate insufficiency among pregnant women attending antenatal care during their first trimester of pregnancy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted from 8 August 2017 to 3 January 2018 in Addis Ababa. In this study, 160 participants were enrolled via the convenience sampling method. Red blood cell folate was measured by the electrochemiluminescence binding assay method. Data were entered into Epi-Data version 3.1 and analyzed by SPSS version 22.0. Descriptive statistics were used to describe demographic characteristics and to determine the magnitude of folate deficiency. Logistic regression was used to identify the risk factors for folate deficiency. A p-value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
RESULTS: In this study, 44/160 (27%) participants had red blood cell folate level <400 ng/mL, insufficient to prevent neural tube defect. Multivariate regression showed that regular vegetable consumption was an independent determinant factor for red blood cell folate level (adjusted odds ratio: 0.41, confidence interval: 0.18-0.93).
CONCLUSION: This study shows that a large magnitude of the first-trimester pregnant women had red blood cell folate concentrations below levels that are maximally protective against neural tube defects. Folic acid supplementation and supplemental nutrition containing green leafy vegetables should be promoted during the periconceptional period. In addition, the policymakers should set rules for mandatory folic acid fortification.