Knowledge and use of folic acid by Amish women residing in the Midwest : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)

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Abbott, Amanda K.
Kandiah, Jayanthi
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the nutrition knowledge of folic acid among Amish women (who were pregnant or planning to be pregnant) residing in the Mid-west. Forty-five women from the Kidron, Ohio and Berne, Indiana areas completed a fifteen, question survey. Of the subjects, 93% were between the ages of 21-40 years and 94% had an eighth grade education. Number of children per family ranged from 0-9. Seventy percent preferred to receive information about vitamins from their doctor during pregnancy. Sixty-two percent of the Amish women had heard, read about, or taken folic acid. From the women who had heard of folic acid, 54% had heard about it from family or friends and another 31 % learned from their doctor. An astounding 77% knew that the primary benefit of taking folate on pregnancy was to decrease the risk of birth defects. Just over half of these women knew the best time to start taking folate for pregnancy was actually before pregnancy occurs. Seventy-eight percent were taking prenatal vitamins 7 times per week, but only 15% were taking folic acid supplements other than their prenatal vitamins. Knowledge on good food sources of folate was lower than other values. Thirty-two percent correctly answered that orange juice was a good source. However, 7% indicated that beans and breads were good sources of folic acid. Four percent thought organ meats (liver/kidney) were excellent sources of folic acid. Unfortunately, 21% thought cabbage was a good source of folate. Of the women who had heard about folic acid, only 41% had taken folate during a previous pregnancy. Forty-four percent had started taking folate on the advice of family or friends. Forty-three percent of the women had began taking folic acid for their current pregnancy when they were first diagnosed and another 43% started during the pregnancy, but not at the start. Only 14% had taken folic acid while trying to become pregnant. The investigator of this study feels that in spite of their minimal nutrition education the Amish women had a high level of knowledge about folic acid. However, for this pilot study, it appears that although Amish women have the knowledge they are unable to apply this information.