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Folic acid vitamin use by women reaches all-time high, March of Dimes survey finds

id the March of Dimes survey found that more women seem to understand the importance of folic acid to the health of babies. A comparison of the eight previous surveys shows that 12 percent of women know that, to be effective, folic acid must be consumed before pregnancy -- up from only 2 percent in 1995. Those who know that folic acid helps prevent birth defects increased to 24 percent in 2004, up from only 4 percent in 1995.

"Although folic acid now has a higher profile in this country, we can't be complacent in our efforts to prevent disabling or fatal NTDs from occurring," said Dr. Howse. "We urge health care professionals and pharmacists to remember to use every contact they have with women capable of having a baby to advise them to take a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily."

NTDs are among the most serious birth defects in the United States. Each year, an estimated 2,200 babies are born with these defects, and additional affected pregnancies result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

To help prevent NTDs, the March of Dimes says, all women capable of becoming pregnant should consume a multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day beginning before pregnancy, as part of a healthy diet containing foods fortified with folic acid and foods that naturally contain folic acid, such as leafy green vegetables, and beans.

The March of Dimes 2004 survey results are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 2,012 women age 18 to 45 conducted from April 19 to May 20, 2004. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus three percentage points.

"Use of Vitamins Containing Folic Acid Among Women of Childbearing Age -- United States, 2004," by Heather K. Carter, M.P.H., Association for Teachers of Preventive Medici
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Contact: Michele Kling
mkling@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4613
March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
16-Sep-2004


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