Neural tube defects are among the most common congenital malformations in the US, with an estimated 3000 pregnancies affected each year. Many of these neural tube defects are caused by low folate levels in the body.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) commissioned a reaffirmation evidence update on the benefits and harms of folic acid supplementation.
Persons who are planning to or could become pregnant.
The USPSTF concludes that, for persons who are planning to or could become pregnant, there is high certainty that folic acid supplementation has a substantial net benefit to prevent neural tube defects in their offspring.
The USPSTF recommends that all persons planning to or who could become pregnant take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 mg (400 to 800 μg) of folic acid. (A recommendation)
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Accepted for Publication: June 25, 2023.
Corresponding Author: Michael J. Barry, MD, Informed Medical Decisions Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, 50 Staniford St, Boston, MA 02114 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Members: Michael J. Barry, MD; Wanda K. Nicholson, MD, MPH, MBA; Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH; David Chelmow, MD; Tumaini Rucker Coker, MD, MBA; Esa M. Davis, MD, MPH; Katrina E. Donahue, MD, MPH; Carlos Roberto Jaén, MD, PhD, MS; Li Li, MD, PhD, MPH; Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH; Goutham Rao, MD; John M. Ruiz, PhD; James Stevermer, MD, MSPH; Joel Tsevat, MD, MPH; Sandra Millon Underwood, PhD, RN; John B. Wong, MD.
Affiliations of The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Members: Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Barry); George Washington University, Washington, DC (Nicholson); Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (Silverstein); Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Chelmow); University of Washington, Seattle (Coker); University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore (Davis); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Donahue); The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio (Jaén, Tsevat); University of Virginia, Charlottesville (Li); New York University, New York, New York (Ogedegbe); Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Rao); University of Arizona, Tucson (Ruiz); University of Missouri, Columbia (Stevermer); University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Underwood); Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts (Wong).
Author Contributions: Dr Barry had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. The USPSTF members contributed equally to the recommendation statement.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Authors followed the policy regarding conflicts of interest described at https://uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/about-uspstf/conflict-interest-disclosures. All members of the USPSTF receive travel reimbursement and an honorarium for participating in USPSTF meetings.
Funding/Support: The USPSTF is an independent, voluntary body. The US Congress mandates that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) support the operations of the USPSTF.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: AHRQ staff assisted in the following: development and review of the research plan, commission of the systematic evidence review from an Evidence-based Practice Center, coordination of expert review and public comment of the draft evidence report and draft recommendation statement, and the writing and preparation of the final recommendation statement and its submission for publication. AHRQ staff had no role in the approval of the final recommendation statement or the decision to submit for publication.
Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the US government. They should not be construed as an official position of AHRQ or the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Additional Contributions: We thank Justin Mills, MD, MPH (AHRQ), who contributed to the writing of the manuscript, and Lisa Nicolella, MA (AHRQ), who assisted with coordination and editing.
Additional Information: Published by JAMA®—Journal of the American Medical Association under arrangement with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). ©2023 AMA and United States Government, as represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), by assignment from the members of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). All rights reserved.
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