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Reducing the Rate of Birth Defects in Spanish-Speaking Communities
by admin on: July 27th, 2011

While the benefits of folic acid for pregnant women are known by many, it is not known by all. In fact, there are certain populations that are unaware of the vitamin and, unfortunately, do not have a diet where they would receive it.

In Utah, a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribute (October 2010) described a program that uses outreach workers to help get the message out. These “promotoras” are paid by Holy Cross Ministries to teach pregnant women about things that many English-speaking individuals find out about on commercials and from regular doctor visits, including:

  • the importance of immunizations
  • the dangers of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • risks of post-partum depression
  • the benefits of breast feeding
  • nutrition issues, such as the importance of taking folic acid early in one???s pregnancy

Folic acid supplementation can help prevent certain types of birth defects; however, women must begin taking this supplement before they are pregnant in order to obtain the maximum benefits. Unfortunately, Spanish-speaking communities, for example, don’t maintain a diet where folic acid is accessible. Additionally, many within that community have not been made aware of the benefits folic acid can provide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pushing the message about the benefits of folic acid in telenovelas (described as serial dramas that are popular in Latin America) in order to try to reach greater portions of the Latino community. In addition, the CDC has established experimental programs using promotoras in Texas as well as North Carolina.

Thus far, the results from North Carolina are promising in that the programs appear to be working ??? more women appear to be taking vitamins. However, getting people to take a multivitamin with folic acid is often described as a struggle because it is likened to a ???behavioral change.???

Regardless, the CDC is encouraged by these early results and will look to expand this program in 2011.

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