According to findings from the new Prenatal Health & Nutrition survey of U.S. women recently announced by the March of Dimes, women of childbearing age need more education to ensure their own health and that of their babies both before and during pregnancy. While 97 percent of women 18-45 who have been or are currently pregnant reported taking prenatal vitamins or multivitamins during their current or last pregnancy, only 34 percent said they started taking the prenatal vitamins or multivitamin before they knew they were pregnant. The number drops to 27 percent for Hispanic women and to 10 percent for African-American/black women. Taking a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin containing 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before pregnancy and during the early months of pregnancy can prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs).
“While it tends to shock some Americans, more than 120,000 babies, or three percent of all births, will be born with birth defects in the United States this year,” said Stacey D. Stewart, President of the March of Dimes. “The results of this survey serve as a reminder of the importance of continually informing women of the benefits of taking a multivitamin with folic acid both before and during pregnancy to improve their own health and that of their future family.” The online survey, developed through a partnership of the March of Dimes and Mission Pharmacal, was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of March of Dimes in August 2017 among more than 1,000 U.S. women ages 18-45.