Bureau of Family Nutrition
Division of Community Health & Prevention
Illinois Department of Human Services

Program Description


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, called neural tube defects. The neural tube forms in the first 28 days after conception, before a woman knows she's pregnant. Research shows that if all women took folic acid every day, up to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be prevented. Therefore, every woman of childbearing age should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, in addition to eating a healthy diet.


The March of Dimes' Illinois Folic Acid Coalition works with professional groups and the general public in a wide variety of settings to educate women on the importance of taking folic acid every day and to establish prematurity as a major health issue among Illinoisans.

Delivery Method

The Folic Acid Campaign is conducted by the Greater Illinois Chapter of the March of Dimes. The campaign distributes educational materials statewide and provides brochures in English and Spanish to maternal and child health providers. Information is also delivered via health fairs, conferences and public service announcements.

Program Data

Folic Acid Education & Prematurity Campaign Program Data
Performance Indicators SFY03 SFY04 SFY05 SFY06
Grant Amount (Numbers in 000's) $50.00 $50.00 $48.30 $49.60
Number of Grantees 1 1 1 1
Number Served 242770 268100 563239 528943

Program Effectiveness

In partnership with the March of Dimes, the Department's education campaign has proven to be effective in the following ways:

  • The March of Dimes continues to provide over 400,000 pieces of free literature through its statewide literature distribution program at numerous health fairs and conferences. Literature includes English and Spanish posters and brochures with the important messages of folic acid, prenatal care, and prematurity.
  • The March of Dimes hosts an annual health conference for Spanish speaking women in November. This conference focuses on health issues related to prematurity & folic acid and is currently in its 7th year.
  • Public Service Announcements promoting educational messages about folic acid and prematurity aired more than 3,581 times on radio and television throughout the state. Print PSA's and other coverage appeared in hundreds of community and metropolitan newspapers, with an average quarterly circulation of 27.6 million.