Date of Award

7-23-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Russ Toal - Chair

Second Advisor

Catherine McCarroll

Third Advisor

Joseph Mulinare

Abstract

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are serious birth defects that affect 3,000 pregnancies in the United States annually. All women of childbearing age are recommended to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for the prevention of NTDs. Women aged 18 to 24 years have multiple risk factors for having an NTD-affected pregnancy and should be targeted by efforts to promote folic acid consumption. Survey data capturing folic acid awareness, knowledge, and supplementation behavior of women aged 18 to 24 years who are not contemplating pregnancy were examined to identify the relationship of folic acid awareness and knowledge to daily supplementation with folic acid in an effort to predict the effectiveness of education-only interventions. Results of the study suggested that awareness and knowledge was not consistently related to daily supplementation. An evaluation of qualitative data using the Health Belief Model offers explanations for the findings and recommendations for targeting these at-risk women.

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