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Evidence to Improve Care

Folate and Folic Acid Testing


Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendation

  • The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommends that red blood cell folate testing be restricted to individuals with:

    • low hemoglobin levels and a high mean corpuscular volume

    • individuals with suspected gastrointestinal disorders causing malabsorption or suspected malnutrition of any cause.

Read the full OHTAC Recommendation report



Folate or folic acid is essential for the normal development of a baby’s spine, brain, and skull. Women who have low levels of folate while they are pregnant are at higher risk of having a baby with birth defects of the brain or spinal cord. Folate is also needed for red blood cells to form and grow. People with low levels of folate in their blood may develop anemia (low red blood cell count).


Health Quality Ontario Reviews Folic Acid Testing

Health Quality Ontario talked to experts to find out who would benefit most from folate and folic acid testing.


Folate and Folic Acid: An Expert Consultation (PDF)
July 2013


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The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has accepted this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: Changes to folate test coverage were made in April 2013.




Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.


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