Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Fall 2017

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Program or Major

Nutrition: Dietetics

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Ruth Reilly

Second Advisor

Sherman Bigornia


There are 3,000 U.S. pregnancies affected by spina bifida and anencephaly annually. If women consume adequate amounts of folic acid (400 mcg/day) one month before pregnancy and through the first trimester, then the risk of their infant developing a neural tube defect (NTD) is reduced by 50-70%. However, approximately 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, with some of the highest rates among 18-24 year olds. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the knowledge source, knowledge level, and intake of folic acid among college-aged students. Qualtrics surveys from 96 subjects (87.5% female, aged 18-24) were used for analysis. In the female sample, 16% were taking a multivitamin containing folic acid and 7% a folic acid supplement. Three questions assessed the sample’s level of folic acid knowledge. Seventy-six percent knew adequate amounts are needed to prevent NTDs, 71% knew it is most important to start consuming it before pregnancy, and 54% answered at least half of the correct food sources. There were 19 females who took an introductory nutrition course, and 63.2% correctly answered NTDs, before pregnancy, and at least half the food sources. Subjects who got folic acid knowledge from a college course were significantly more likely to answer the three questions correctly compared to those who never received information on the vitamin. Findings suggested that among college students, the best source of information about folic acid is college courses. Future research may study the correlation between folic acid knowledge and knowledge source among a larger, more diverse college population.