Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Pregnancy and Before

Folic Acid Supplementation

Overall
By Maternal Age
By Parity

Folic acid, or folate, is one of the 'B' vitamins. It is essential to the normal development of an unborn baby's spine, brain and skull, especially during the first four weeks of pregnancy. Folate also supports a pregnant woman’s expanding blood volume and the growth of maternal and fetal tissues. Eating according to Canada’s Food Guide and taking a daily multivitamin with 400 mcg (0.4mg) of folic acid will help prepare for a healthy pregnancy and can reduce the risk of a baby developing neural tube defects. However, according to the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey, 22% of women of childbearing age had a blood cell folate concentration below the level considered optimal to minimize the risk of neural tube defects.

It is recommended that folic acid supplements be taken at least three months before getting pregnant and throughout pregnancy.

For more information on folic acid vitamins and pregnancy, please see the health unit's website on health before pregnancy

Overall

According to the Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN), in 2016, just under one third (32.7% (31.4%, 34.0%)) of new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka were taking a folic acid supplement prior to becoming pregnant. Over 95% of these women also supplemented during pregnancy. Over half (55.9% (54.5%, 57.3%) of new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka took a folic acid supplementation during pregnancy only and 11.4% (10.6%, 12.3%) did not take any folic acid supplementation. Folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy have remained consistent from 2013 to 2016.

BORNFolicAcidSupp2016

By Maternal Age

Folic acid supplementation before pregnancy was higher in the older maternal age groups with 37.3% (34.1%, 40.5%) of new mothers aged 35-49 years taking a folic acid supplement prior to becoming pregnant, compared with only 11.5% (8.7%, 13.3%) of new mothers aged 15-24 years. Less than 2% of women in any age group who supplemented prior to pregnancy stopped taking folic acid supplements upon becoming pregnant.

Younger new mothers were more likely to only supplement during pregnancy. Nearly three-quarters (71.5% (68.1%, 74.7%)) of mothers aged 15-24 years only took a folic acid supplement during pregnancy, whereas just over half of pregnant women aged 25-34 and 35-49 years only supplemented during pregnancy. These differences in supplementation by age may be explained by a greater proportion of pregnancies in younger women being unplanned.

BORNFolicAcidSuppbyMatAge2016

By Parity

First time mothers in Simcoe Muskoka were significantly more likely to report folic acid supplementation in 2016 (nulliparous; 90.3% (88.9%, 91.5%)), compared to women who had given birth previously (multiparous; 87.3% (86.0%, 88.5%)). First time mothers were particularly more likely to report pre-pregnancy supplementation (34.9% (32.9%, 37.0%)) than women who had previously given birth (30.9% (29.2%, 32.7%)).

BORNFolicAcidSuppbyParity2016