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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the folate status of New Zealand women of childbearing age following the introduction, in 2010, of a new voluntary folic acid fortification of bread programme. DESIGN: The 2011 Folate and Women's Health Survey was a cross-sectional survey of women aged 18-44 years carried out in 2011. The survey used a stratified random sampling technique with the Electoral Roll as the sampling frame. Women were asked about consumption of folic-acid-fortified breads and breakfast cereals in a telephone interview. During a clinic visit, blood was collected for serum and erythrocyte folate measurement by microbiological assay. SETTING: A North Island (Wellington) and South Island (Dunedin) city centre in New Zealand. SUBJECTS: Two hundred and eighty-eight women, of whom 278 completed a clinic visit. RESULTS: Geometric mean serum and erythrocyte folate concentrations were 30 nmol/l and 996 nmol/l, respectively. Folate status was 30-40 % higher compared with women of childbearing age sampled as part of a national survey in 2008/09, prior to the introduction of the voluntary folic acid bread fortification programme. In the 2011 Folate and Women's Health Survey, reported consumption of fortified bread and fortified breakfast cereal in the past week was associated with 25 % (P=0·01) and 15 % (P=0·04) higher serum folate concentrations, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Serum and erythrocyte folate concentrations have increased in New Zealand women of childbearing age since the number of folic-acid-fortified breads was increased voluntarily in 2010. Consumption of fortified breads and breakfast cereals was associated with a higher folate status.

Original publication




Journal article


Public Health Nutr

Publication Date





2897 - 2905


Folate, New Zealand, Survey, Women of childbearing age