e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Periconceptional supplementation with folic acid, with or without multivitamins to prevent neural tube defects

Studies suggest that fetal growth and development are influenced by the nutritional status of the mother in the period before she conceives and at the time of conception. This periconceptional period is therefore considered to be an important time for interventions that optimize maternal health and thereby confer benefits to the next generation.

Folic acid is used in supplements and fortified foods to reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

In the periconceptional period, the latest evidence suggests that neural tube defects can be prevented with folic acid supplementation, either alone or in combination with other vitamins and minerals, however further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available


Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:34 CET

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee