Illinois Department of Human Services
Division of Family & Community Services
All women of childbearing age in the State of Illinois.
All women of childbearing age.
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 prior to and during pregnancy, 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, educational programming, 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. A special emphasis was placed during Prematurity Awareness Month (November 2010) and Folic Acid Awareness Week (January 2-8, 2010).
- 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. During SFY 2011, statewide poster distribution is estimated to have reached over 34,000 individuals per month as reported by recipient agencies.
- 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.
- The March of Dimes hosted their annual health conference for Spanish speaking women in November. The conference's focus included prematurity prevention and folic acid education.
- The March of Dimes has partnered with three of the Healthy Start Programs in Illinois to provide participants with education and information on folic acid and prematurity prevention.
- Through a collaborative relationship developed by the Folic Acid Coordinator with the Health Sciences faculty at UIC College Prep, a CPS charter high school, community agencies were recruited to work with the students in the 9th grade Health Sciences Honors Class to explore issues related to preconception and reproductive health. Working in small groups, students conducted research and developed health education and awareness materials for adolescents. In June, students presented their final projects, which included multimedia presentations, videos, PSAs, and brochures. The presentations reflected the knowledge students had gained from their research as well as a deeper understanding of the importance of preconception and reproductive health for adolescents.