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HMHB Issues Mother’s Day Call to Action

PRESS RELEASE
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB)
4401 Ford Avenue
Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22302
MEDIA CONTACT:
Arlene Remick, aremick@hmhb.org or 703-837-4792

National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Mother’s Day Call to Action

Alexandria, VA – Every Mother’s Day, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition draws attention to an issue of vital importance to maternal and child health. This year, the Coalition is using the holiday to share an important message with women and their families.

All women of childbearing years should take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

Folic acid is a B-vitamin that helps build healthy cells. The US Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily by taking a multivitamin and consuming fortified grains as a part of a healthy diet. Studies have shown that if taken before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can significantly reduce the number of birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs) by up to 70 percent. Emerging research also suggests that folic acid may also reduce the risk of other birth defects such as cleft lip and palate and some heart defects; cardiovascular disease and colon, cervical and breast cancer.

The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanic women have the lowest reported folic acid consumption of any racial or ethnic group. NTDs occur with the most frequency among Latina populations in the United States, with Hispanic women at 1.5 to 2 times higher risk of delivering babies with NTDs than non-Hispanic whites.

“Since half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, it’s important that all women get the right amount of folic acid, whether or not they are thinking about getting pregnant. This is particularly important because the neural tube develops very early in pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant,” says Judy Meehan, executive director of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

“On Mother’s Day when the family is busy doing things for mom, we encourage women to do something for themselves – as well as for the baby who might be in their future one day,” says Meehan.

The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition encourages all women to:

  • Make a commitment to get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
  • Read food labels and make healthy choices that include enriched foods
  • Give a friend, colleague or family member a supply of multi-vitamins with the recommended amount of folic acid

“Folic acid is an easy and proven way to help prevent birth defects and promote long-term health. On Mother’s Day, all women should take a moment for themselves – and take their folic acid,” says Meehan.

The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) is a leading voice on maternal and child health, reaching an estimated one hundred million health care professionals, parents and policymakers through its membership of over 200 local, state and national organizations. Enhanced by a network of state and local coalitions that share the name and logo, MHB acts as a catalyst for change and creates partnerships among community groups, nonprofit organizations, professional associations, businesses and government agencies. By promoting optimal health for mothers and babies and responsible fatherhood, HMHB works to strengthen families and build healthy communities.