pregnant womanMany woman hoping to get pregnant wonder about how to reduce the danger of birth defects. Starting to take  400 mcg of folic acid before pregnancy is a proven way to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine .

Woman Surveyed about Prenatal Care

In an online survey of women age 18-45 done by Harris Poll it was reported that:

  • 43% of women reported that the cost affected when and whether they sought prenatal care for their pregnancy.
  • Only 34% said they started taking the prenatal vitamin or multivitamin before they knew they were pregnant, and the number drops to 27 percent for Hispanic women and to 10 percent for African-American/black women.
  • 63% were able to identify folic acid as a very important nutrient, fewer than 36%  percent of women cited iron; 33% for calcium  and  29% for vitamin D as vitamins that may help reduce a woman’s risk of having a baby with a birth defect.
  • 59% or cited an inaccurate recommended amount of the folic acid.
  •  13% of women weren’t aware that avoiding smoking/tobacco products would help reduce the risk of birth defects, and 12 percent were unaware that eliminating drinking and illegal drugs would do the same.
  • Most women reporting they are aware that folic acid is important for health of baby — but not when to take it, how much to take, or why it is important. Even less understanding was reported around other key nutrients.
  • 77%  worry that there may be changes to the healthcare system that may negatively impact access to prenatal care.

Highlighting the Challenges of Access to Care:

53% of Hispanic women said that cost of prenatal care was a problem during pregnancy

34% of African -American women  said the cost of prenatal care was a problem during pregnancy

Birth Defects Can Happen Early in Pregnancy

Because these birth defects happen in the first month of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant, and with almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. unplanned, multivitamins are recognized as a key strategy to reduce the risk of NTDs. Babies born to Hispanic women are more likely to be born with NTDs than babies born to non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic black women. The March of Dimes says up to 7 in 10 of the 3,000 NTDs that occur each year in the U.S. each year could be prevented if all women capable of having a baby took daily multivitamins containing folic acid.

What is the Correct Dose of Prenatal Vitamins?

After pregnancy begins, the folic acid recommendation increases to 600 mcg daily.  In addition, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA and iodine have been found to play a key role in baby’s growth and development during pregnancy.

3% Birth Defects in Children Born in U. S

“While it tends to shock some Americans, more than 120,000 babies, or three percent of all births, will be born with birth defects in the United States this year,” said Stacey D. Stewart, President of the March of Dimes. “The results of this survey serve as a reminder of the importance of continually informing women of the benefits of taking a multivitamin with folic acid both before and during pregnancy to improve their own health and that of their future family.”

 

 

Dale Petersen MD

By Dale Peterson, MD- Building Health

Dr. Dale Peterson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Medicine. He completed his residency in FamilyMedicine at the University of Oklahoma. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Academy of  Family Physicians. He had a full-time family practice in Edmond, Oklahoma, for over 20 years and was a Chief of Staff of the Edmond Hospital. He was active in teachingfor many years as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine through the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Peterson left his full-time family practice in 1999 to consult with individuals who are seeking ways to restore and maintain their health through improved nutrition and other lifestyle changes. He founded the Wellness Clubs of America to give people access to credible information on supporting and maintaining their health.  His monthly wellness letter, Health by Design, and his Health by Design E-Newsletter provide helpful information to individuals interested in preventing and conquering health challenges.  He is the author of Building Health by Design:  Adding Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life .

Dr. Peterson speaks regularly on subjects related to health and nutrition. He hosted a weekly radio program,Your Health Matters, on KTOK in Oklahoma City for five years. For the past nine years he has addressed questions from across the nation on his Your Health Matters weekly teleconference.He offers a free video LifeXtension course at www.drdalepeterson.com.

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