National Folic Acid Awareness Week

January 3-9, 2016

Adequate folic acid intake is important for the prevention of birth defects. Women of childbearing age need an extra 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day. These women can take a daily multivitamin or eat fortified foods. Check the label of your favorite cereal to see if it has 100% DV (daily value) of folic acid.

Important growth of the baby happens very early in pregnancy, before most women know that they are pregnant. Folic acid can prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine if a woman takes it before and during a pregnancy. Remember if you are pregnant, take a prenatal vitamin with iron and folic acid every day.

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Nutritional Habits

Although all enriched cereals and grain products in the U.S. are fortified with the B-vitamin folic acid, only one-third of U.S. women of childbearing age consume the recommended amount from their diet. Taking a multivitamin with folic acid every day is a key way that women can get the recommended amount of 400 mcg.

Be Prepared Before Pregnancy

Women need folic acid, even if not planning to become pregnant, since 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. Taking folic acid before pregnancy reduces the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects (NTDs), by up to 70%.

Message to the Hispanic Community

Hispanic babies are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with an NTD.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Latinas in the U.S. consume the least amount of folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid among racial or ethnic groups.