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New research shows Canadian women of every age need to ‘bump’ up their prenatal knowledge

pregnant mom and child

mother and childThere’s nothing as life changing as the biggest surprise of all: finding out a baby is on the way! Even when fully planned, when it comes to pregnancies, many people are still surprised by the “plus sign”. Whether they’re a first time mom or adding more to the family, new research shows that Canadian women could be better prepared.  

Prepare for pregnancy with folic acid

The 2nd Annual Nestlé Materna Prenatal Poll shows that even when considering their planned pregnancies, almost one third of Canadian women say they were surprised by the positive test 1 results. For women between ages 35 and 49, almost half of their third pregnancies are unplanned2,3.

But when it comes to pregnancy, being prepared is important no matter your age or number of children. For example, taking folic acid before conception and early pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects4 (NTDs) such as spina bifida, which may occur very early in pregnancy5. According to one study, less than 1% of Canadian women of childbearing age get the recommended amount of folic acid needed to prevent NTDs from diet alone.6

Although the majority of Canadian women know pregnant women should take a daily prenatal vitamin containing folic acid7, knowledge is low8 when it comes to the fact that women should start taking folic acid daily 12 weeks before they become pregnant9. What’s more, the number of women who take prenatal multivitamins with folic acid drops 11% when comparing first pregnancies to third and later pregnancies.10

Pregnancy Planning For Every Decade

Obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Daniela Carara at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital says taking a prenatal multivitamin with folic acid is a habit women can’t overlook.

“Women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s may have different health concerns when it comes to pregnancy, but the need for folic acid remains the same,” says Dr. Carara. “The knowledge gap and the drop in folic acid intake is concerning because in general, half of all pregnancies are unplanned11 and even for planned pregnancies women often don’t know they are pregnant until they are at least a month along.” 



[1] Nestle Materna Preconception Poll 2014 p 17

[2] Nestle Materna Preconception Poll 2014 p 13

[3] Nestle Materna Preconception Poll 2014 p 15

[4] Nov 4 2014 p2

[5] Nov 4 2014 p1

[6] Accessed Nov. 12 2014

[7] Nestlé Materna Prenatal Poll 2013 Survey p13

[8] Nestlé Materna Prenatal Poll 2013 p 9

[9] Nestlé Materna Prenatal Poll 2013 p 9

[10] Nestlé Materna Prenatal Poll 2013 – Revised Question pgs 7, 15 and 19

[11] Nov 4 2014 p2