JOURNAL ARTICLE

U.S. provider reported folic acid or multivitamin ordering for non-pregnant women of childbearing age: NAMCS and NHAMCS, 2005-2006

Heather H Burris, Martha M Werler
Maternal and Child Health Journal 2011, 15 (3): 352-9
20204479
Folic acid use started prior to pregnancy confers a decreased risk of neural tube defects, and yet 20-50% of pregnancies are unplanned. We sought to determine whether medical providers order folic acid (FA) or folic acid-containing multivitamins (MVI) for their non-pregnant female patients of childbearing age. This is a cross-sectional study using data from the CDC's National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) (2005 and 2006). Among non-pregnant, female patients of childbearing age (15-44), the proportion of preventive visits during which a provider ordered FA/MVI supplements was determined and compared to pregnant patients. Next, the rates of FA/MVI orders were examined according to race/ethnicity, age, insurance status, region of the country, provider type, contraceptive care, income and education. Analyses were conducted using SAS-callable Sudaan to account for survey design and to obtain population estimates. There were 4,634 preventive visits for non-pregnant women of childbearing age, representing 32.1 million visits nationally. Of these visits, 7.2% included provider-ordered FA/MVI. Multivariable logistic regression analyses revealed that provider-ordered FA/MVI was most common for women ages 30-34, who receive Medicaid, and whose race/ethnicity was other than White, Black or Hispanic. Preventive care visits represent an important venue for counseling regarding the benefits of FA for women of childbearing age, but appear to be under-utilized in all women. Our findings suggest that annually there may be over 29 million missed opportunities to recommend folic acid to non-pregnant women seeking preventive care.

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