January 4-10 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 from a multi-vitamin or fortified foods, folic acid can prevent from 50% up to 70% of some forms of serious birth defects of the brain and spine.
Visit CDC’s Folic Acid website for information and free materials on how folic acid can help prevent birth defects.
The CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women between 15 and 45 years of age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to prevent two common and serious birth defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. Women need folic acid, even if not planning to become pregnant, since 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. Increasing the percentage of non-pregnant women who take a multi-vitamin or folic acid is a Florida MIECHV preconception health benchmark.
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 the easiest way that women can get the recommended amount of 400 mcg. Hispanic babies are more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with a neural tube defect (NTD). The CDC reports 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