WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday announced it is working with the March of Dimes and television personality Vanessa Minnillo on a public health message to help educate all women of reproductive age about the importance of folate and folic acid through a national educational campaign called Girlfriends for Folate.
DailyCandy.com also has committed to engaging its extensive membership of women to help spread the word about daily folate supplementation, Bayer said.
A new survey of 643 American women ages 18 to 45 years conducted by March of Dimes and Bayer found that nearly half of women (43%) were unaware of the health benefits of taking folate or folic acid daily. Further, 67% reported they do not take a supplement containing folate or folic acid daily, with more than half (52%) saying they don't take a supplement containing folic acid at all.
The survey also found that women who were knowledgeable about folate were more likely to take a supplement containing folate or folic acid than those who were not knowledgeable (76% versus 32%).
"For more than a decade, March of Dimes has been committed to educating women of reproductive age about the importance of folate and folic acid,” stated Janis Biermann, SVP education and health promotion for March of Dimes. "According to 2001 data, nearly half of all pregnancies in the [United States] are unplanned. If all women planning or capable of becoming pregnant took the recommended amount of folate or folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it is estimated that up to 50% of [neural tube defects] could be prevented."
March of Dimes recommends that all women of reproductive age supplement their diet with at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Further, an objective of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 national initiative is to increase the proportion of women of childbearing potential with intake of at least 400 mcg of folic acid from fortified foods or dietary supplements — an objective that was not met in 2010.