Awareness of risk factors and preventive measures for neural tube defects: Perception towards pregnancy termination in the Saudi population.
Journal of Neurotrauma
Babgi MA1, Al-Jifree HM1,2, AlShehri OA1, Khan MA1, Khogeer AN1, Alqurashi MA1,3.
1 College of Medicine, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, National Guard Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, King Abdulaziz Medical City, National Guard Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
3 Department of Pediatric Neonatology, King Abdulaziz Medical City, National Guard Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Year of Publication:
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are among the most common congenital anomalies worldwide with an incidence of 300,000/year. Spina bifida, which is the most prevalent NTD, has an incidence of 1.2/1000 live births in Saudi Arabia. Our study aimed to assess the awareness of NTDs and the implementation of preventative measures against them. In addition, to gauge public opinion regarding abortion following early diagnosis of NTDs.
This was a cross-sectional study in which questionnaires were distributed using non-probability convenient sampling technique and data was collected in a face-to-face interview. Subjects were approached in an outpatient clinic and in a shopping mall in Jeddah city, Saudi Arabia.
Out of 353 subjects, 35.7% were males, 64.3% females (33% pregnant), and the median age was 34 (IQR = 14) years. Of subjects, 66.3% were not aware of NTDs, and regarding folic acid 54% believed that it helps in preventing NTDs, and only 25% agreed on starting it before pregnancy. However, only 19% agreed on all points, which even dropped to 9% after considering planned pregnancies. Gender differences were extremely significant (p-value <0.001) as females were more aware. Interestingly, 62% would abort in early-diagnosed NTD cases. Of pregnant women, only 20% started taking folic acid before pregnancy.
The data shows that the majority of the study’s population are in favor of terminating the pregnancy in justified NTD cases. There is a need for increasing public awareness, especially to males, and should be provided through all channels of knowledge.