Proportion of women who took folic acid supplements three months prior to pregnancy and during the first three months of pregnancy, Canada and provinces/territories, 2006/2007

*Use with caution.

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Maternity Experiences Survey, 2006-2007. – accessed July 21, 2017.

According to the Maternity Experiences Survey (MES**), in 2006-2007, almost 58% percent of Canadian women reported that they took folic acid three months prior to pregnancy.

More women, almost 90%, took folic acid during the first three months of pregnancy.

Higher proportions of women took folic acid before and during their pregnancies in the Yukon as compared to the rest of Canada.

**The MES population consisted of birth mothers 15 years of age and older who had a singleton live birth in Canada during a three-month period preceding the 2006 Canadian Census of Population and who lived with their infant at the time of data collection. Using the 2006 Canadian Census, a stratified random sample of 8,244 women estimated to be eligible was identified. Of these women, 6,421 (78%) completed a 45-minute interview at five to 14 months after the birth of their baby, conducted primarily by telephone.


Neural tube defects – spina bifida and anencephaly – may be prevented if women take enough folic acid before and while they are pregnant. Spina bifida happens when the spine does not develop normally. Anencephaly happens when the skull and the brain do not develop normally. Neural tube defects happen very early in pregnancy – within the first 25 to 29 days – and many women may not even be aware of their pregnancy.  Therefore, it is recommended that women take folic acid supplements before they become pregnant as well as during pregnancy.1

1Motherisk. Taking Folic Acid Before You Become Pregnant. 2017. – accessed July 18, 2017.