Folic Acid Education & Prematurity Campaign
Bureau of Family Nutrition
Division of Community Health & Prevention
Illinois Department of Human Services
All women of childbearing age in the State of Illinois
All women of childbearing age need folic acid every day to help reduce the risk of having a child with birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, known as neural tube defects. The neural tube forms in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. Research shows that if all women of reproductive age took folic acid every day, up to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be prevented. In addition to having a healthy diet with foods rich in folate and folic acid, every woman of child bearing age should consume a daily multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid.
The March of Dimes works with professional groups, providers, health agencies, and the general public in a wide variety of settings to promote healthy pregnancies and educate women on the importance of consuming folic acid every day. By providing health literature, supporting programmatic efforts statewide, developing educational initiatives, and hosting events, the March of Dimes brings awareness to factors that promote a healthy pregnancy and the impacts of preterm birth.
A designated Program Services Coordinator at the Illinois Chapter of the March of Dimes focuses on statewide promotion of folic acid education and prematurity awareness. This goal is achieved by directly working with hospitals, health departments and direct service agencies to distribute bilingual health education literature statewide. Consumer education is also delivered via health fairs, conferences, news media, and public service announcements.
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- The March of Dimes distributed free literature statewide to county health departments and agencies through its literature distribution program. Literature was also provided at numerous health fairs, hospitals, educational events and conferences. Literature included English and Spanish posters and brochures with information on folic acid, prenatal care, and prematurity.
- The March of Dimes developed posters and promotional materials targeted towards women of reproductive age who are not currently pregnant to bring awareness about the importance of folic acid consumption before and during pregnancy and the importance of preconception health.
- The March of Dimes hosted their annual health conference for Spanish speaking women in November. This conference focused on health issues related to prematurity and folic acid and is currently in its 10th year.
- The March of Dimes is funding 8 agencies in a three-year pilot project for the implementation of CenteringPregnancy® at 12 sites in Illinois. CenteringPregnancy® replaces traditional prenatal care visits with a group prenatal care model composed of in-depth, 2 hour long group visits involving enhanced education, social support, and self- empowerment. The overall goal of the CenteringPregnancy® project is to reduce pre-term delivery and infant mortality by providing an environment of education and prenatal care for women who are most at risk for not receiving care due to access or other barriers to care. Preliminary results from the 12 sites, which primarily serve low-income women at higher risk for pre-term birth, have already shown improved birth outcomes for women participating in CenteringPregnancy®
- March of Dimes media initiatives on folic acid promotion, having a healthy pregnancy, and prematurity awareness included radio, television, internet and print media. These placements appeared in communities across the state and metropolitan media outlets, with millions in viewership.