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Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1981 May 9; 282(6275): 1509–1511.
PMCID: PMC1505459

Double-blind randomised controlled trial of folate treatment before conception to prevent recurrence of neural-tube defects.


A randomized controlled double-blind trial was undertaken in south Wales to prevent the recurrence of neural-tube defects in women who had had one child with a neural-tube defect. Sixty women were allocated before conception to take 4 mg of folic acid a day before and during early pregnancy and 44 complied with these instructions. Fifty-one women were allocated to placebo treatment. There were no recurrences among the compliant mothers but two among the non-compliers and four among the women in the placebo group. Thus there were no recurrences among those who received supplementation and six among those who did not; this difference is significant (p = 0.04). It is concluded that folic acid supplementation might be a cheap, safe, and effective method of primary prevention of neural-tube defects but that this must be confirmed in a large, multicentre trial.

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