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, 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 child bearing 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.
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.
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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 stateside literature distribution program at numerous health fairs, hospitals programs 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 and folic acid and is currently in its 10th year.
- The March of Dimes funds one of the March of Dimes signature initiatives for pregnant women -- CenteringPregnancy®. This pilot project focuses on providing group prenatal care to low-income women at higher risk for pre-term birth. In this model, traditional one-on-one prenatal visits with the physician are replaced by in-depth, 2 hour group visits involving enhanced education, social support, and self- empowerment. The overall goal of the Centering Pregnancy 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 neglecting said care due to access or other factors. The March of Dimes funds 8 CP programs with sites throughout the state.
- This year media placements promoting educational messages about folic acid, healthy pregnancy, and/or prematurity appeared more than 5,000 times on radio, Internet, television and in print throughout the state. These placements appeared in hundreds of community and metropolitan media outlets, with average quarterly circulation of more than 25 million.