In August 2017, the March of Dimes Foundation conducted an online survey titled Prenatal Health and Nutrition that stated that women of childbearing age need more education to ensure their own health and that of their babies both before and during pregnancy. The survey concluded that only 34 percent of women and 10 percent of African American women said they started taking prenatal vitamins or multivitamins before they knew they were pregnant. March of Dimes Foundation President Stacey D. Stewart is working on a project to educate more women of the benefits of taking prenatal vitamins while they are in their childbearing years to ensure a healthy pregnancy once they become pregnant.
“Taking a prenatal vitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before pregnancy can prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine. Nearly 70 percent of those birth defects could be prevented if women took vitamins prior to pregnancy,” says Stewart.
Multivitamins and prenatal vitamins containing folic acid are very safe and effective, according to Stewart. All nutrients are important, but folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and iodine are just some of the nutrients that play a key role in your baby’s healthy growth and development during pregnancy. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin supplement helps make up for certain nutrients that your body can’t make on its or that you may not get in sufficient amounts in the foods you eat.
To help better educate women of childbearing age, families, and healthcare professionals, the March of Dimes Foundation is implementing new social media campaigns. Also now available are websites in English at marchofdimes.org and in Spanish at nacersano.org to help women better understand the things they can do to reduce risk and to help ensure a full-term, healthy pregnancy and baby.
Stewart states, “It’s also essential that our health care system ensures access to high quality care for pregnant women, moms and babies, and that health information is culturally appropriate.”