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The importance of folic acid


3 Star

The importance of folic acid

Our Review Summary

This piece was a story about the importance of adequate folic acid intake to reduce the risk of certain birth defects.  While it did mention the amount of folic acid that is the goal, it could have done a better job of providing specific information that viewers could use to insure that they attained their folic acid intake goal.  This is especially the case as the piece mentioned that recent studies have shown that only about a third of women have sufficient folic acid intake, as well the fact the number of women with adequate folic acid intake is decreasing.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of costs in this piece.  It would have been very easy to note that it is CHEAP!

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

That adequate folic acid intake reduced risk (a 28% reduction in neural tube defects; 40% reduced risk of cleft lip or palate) was presented as relative risk only.  Especially as these are both rare birth defects, the change in numbers that potentially results from insuring adequate folic acid intake is small. The context of absolute risk reduction was important, but missing.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of harms or lack of harms that are associated with adequate folic acid intake in women of child bearing age.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


This piece mentioned one study that found inadequate folic acid consumption prior to conception was associated with an additional birth defect.  However, the piece discussed the long standing body of evidence of benefit from adequate folic acid consumption that was associated with decreased risk of neural tube defects.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


While this piece did not exactly engage in disease mongering, it provided information about yet another birth defect for which adequate intake of folic acid reduced the risk even though this information does not affect the long standing recommendation for folic acid intake.  The problem is that it failed to note that the incidence of cleft palate and cleft lip are rare.


Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

There were no comments from experts in B vitamins or prenatal development.  We really don't what sources were used. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


Recommendations of adequate folic acid intake were presented.  The treatment options, obtaining folic acid from dietary sources or from supplements were both presented.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


This story discussed folic acid supplements, but would have been better if it had explicitly mentioned that these are available over the counter.  The story mentioned multivitamins, but would have been better had it included the caveat that consumers need to check the label to determine whether the product contained 400 mcg.  The story also discussed food sources (leafy green vegetables, liver, dried beans, citrus fuits, whole grain bread and cereals); however this was somewhat incomplete because without mention of the amounts of folic acid or the % of the recommended 400 mcg they might get in a single serving a person does not know how to use these foods to insure sufficient folic acid intake.

Including guidance, such as reading labels, would have made this story more useful for the viewer interested in meeting the recommended intake.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


Although presenting some new data on a different type of birth defect, the story was clear that the importance of adequate folic acid consumption is not new.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can't be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory


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