Folic Acid Awareness Week

January 8-14, 2017 is Folic Acid Awareness Week!

Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. If taken before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can prevent up to 70% of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects.

The CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women between the ages of 15 and 45 consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to prevent two types of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. Since these birth defects develop within the first few weeks of pregnancy, it is important to have enough folic acid in your body BEFORE becoming pregnant and to continue getting enough folic acid during early pregnancy.  Women need folic acid even if they are not planning to become pregnant since almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.  

Women who could possibly become pregnant can consume 400 mcg of folic acid every day by:

  • taking a daily multi-vitamin containing folic acid, and
  • eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, or breakfast cereals.
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 get the recommended amount from their diet. Taking a multivitamin with folic acid every day is the easiest way that women can get the recommended amount of 400 mcg. In addition to getting 400 mcg of folic acid from supplements and fortified foods, it is important to eat a diet rich in folate. Folate is a form of the B vitamin folic acid. It is found naturally in some foods, such as leafy, dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and beans.

Hispanic babies are more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with a neural tube defect. The CDC reports that Latinas in the U.S. consume less folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid than non-Hispanic women.


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Folic acid is a vitamin that can help prevent birth defects. Women of childbearing age need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day. Check out CDC’s http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/index.html.

Women can get the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid by taking a daily multivitamin or by eating fortified foods. Check the label of your favorite cereal to see if it has 100% DV (daily value) of folic acid. See http://www.cdc.gov/Features/FolicAcid/

More than half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Talk to your health care provider about a reproductive life plan. Check out the website http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/getready.html


Resources from State Programs

Educational Materials                    

What do you know about Folic Acid?
Take the Quiz!
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Play the Folic Acid Game!
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Folic Acid: Your Vitamin For Life
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Folic Acid Take it for Your Health Pamphlet:

Self Study Course

Folic Acid and the Prevention of NTDs

 

  © 2016, National Birth Defects Prevention Network