This is a story about a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics which found an association between folic acid levels and school grades in a cohort of Swedish teens. This story did a reasonable job of describing this cohort study. It explained that the small study may not be meaningful in the US where many common foods are fortified with folic acid – making it unlikely that there are children with low or marginal intakes of this B vitamin.
Understanding how to interpret study results and knowing the appropriate questions to ask in order to understand how those results might be applicable is a valuable skill. Helping people think about studies of nutrition in context and whether they might apply to other populations is important. This story demonstrated those skills.
Not applicable. Costs weren’t mentioned, but we didn’t think that was a necessity in this case.
The story provided the data on the summation of grades showing the difference in folic acid levels in the children in the highest and lowest groups. While it is nice to have absolute grade difference provided, it would have been useful to indicate whether these differences were statistically significant or whether the differences in folic acid intake were clinically significant.
Not applicable. Harms not mentioned. The story could have mentioned the potential for excessive folic acid intake to interfere with vitamin B12 uptake which, though unlikely in a teen population, could mask symptoms of B12 deficiency. But we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt on this.
The story mentioned the fact that the study was small and that the population differed in an important way from teens in the US who consume food that is supplemented with folic acid. It also pointed out that the study was not a randomized controlled trial so there may have been other differences between the groups of teens found to have high and low amounts of folic acid.
The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.
The story included quotes from independent sources who helped provide context and perspective on the study and its results.
The story mentioned that the food supply in the US was folic acid fortified.
The story stated that folic acid is one of the ‘B’ vitamins and that at least in the US, is found in fortified foods.
The story could have also mentioned that folic acid is a common ingredient in multivitamin formulations.
The story provided good background on folic acid intake.
This story did not appear to rely solely on a news release.