The US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended daily folic acid supplementation for women planning on becoming pregnant in an effort to prevent fetal neural tube defects. We evaluated pregnant patients presenting to the emergency department to determine rates of folic acid supplementation.
We surveyed a convenience sample of pregnant patients who presented to the University of Utah Emergency Department (ED) between 1 January 2008, and 30 April 2009, regarding pregnancy history and prior medical care.
One hundred thirty-five patients participated in the study. Eighty-four patients (62.2%) reported current folic acid supplementation. Sixty-six patients identified themselves as Caucasian and 69 as non-Caucasian race. There was a significant difference in folic acid use between Caucasian and non-Caucasian women (p = 0.035). The majority of Caucasian women (71.2%) reported daily folic acid use versus approximately one-half of non-Caucasian women (53.6%). Both groups were similar in accessing a primary care provider (PCP) for pregnancy care prior to the ED visit (53% vs. 49.3%, p = 0.663), and rates of folic acid use were similar in those who had seen a PCP (85.7% vs. 76.5%, p = 0.326). Language did not have a significant association with folic acid use.
A large percentage of pregnant ED patients did not report current folic use, and there was a significant difference between Caucasian and non-Caucasian women in rates of folic acid supplementation. This study highlights the potential role of the ED in screening patients for folic acid supplementation.