Ladies, Don't Forget Your Folic Acid

Despite health benefits, many forget to take it each day, survey finds

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 3, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Despite the fact that folic acid can prevent spina bifida and other birth defects in babies, many American women of childbearing age fail to take daily doses of it.

Simple forgetfulness is one of the main reasons, says a new March of Dimes annual survey released Sept. 3.

The national telephone survey of 2,006 women aged 18 to 45 found 32 percent take a daily multivitamin containing folic acid, an increase of 4 percent since 1995.

When the other women in the survey were asked why they didn't take folic acid daily, 24 percent said they forgot, 22 percent had no particular reason, 16 percent said they felt they didn't need to, 9 percent said they ate a balanced diet, 4 percent said they don't like taking pills and another 4 percent said vitamins cost too much.

The survey also found a third of the women interviewed who have seen television public service ads about folic acid believed the ads are for women who are trying to get pregnant or are for women in a different age group than theirs.

The women were asked what might prompt them to take folic acid each day and 33 percent said that they'd be more likely to do so on advice from their doctor or health-care provider.

"It appears that many women are still in denial about their need for folic acid. About 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, so it's important for every woman capable of having a baby to take a multivitamin with folic acid daily, even if she's not thinking about having a baby," Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, March of Dimes president, says in a news release.

"While rates of spina bifida and other neural tube defects have been decreasing, the rate can drop lower still with daily folic acid intake," she says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about folic acid.

SOURCES: March of Dimes, news release, Sept. 3, 2003

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