eInsights - May 2010
NCBDDD Reaching Out to Women of Childbearing Age with NTD Prevention Information
Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) can affect any pregnancy; however, Latinas have higher rates of affected pregnancies than women of other racial/ethnic groups. Because of this, the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) has focused many of its education and outreach projects on increasing folic acid awareness, knowledge, and consumption among Latinas of childbearing age.
In order to educate Latina women about the importance of getting enough folic acid before pregnancy to help prevent NTDs, the NCBDDD provides free educational materials, in English and Spanish, to the public through their Web site. NCBDDD also recently partnered with the North Carolina Folic Acid Council to develop a Spanish-language television public service announcement (PSA). This PSA is also available to partners and can be downloaded for free from the NCBDDD folic acid partners’ web page. The Web site also provides access to radio PSAs and podcasts produced earlier.
"We have learned that discussing the importance of taking folic acid prior to pregnancy, often times when an audience is not open to the idea of a pregnancy can be challenging,” said Alina Flores, Health Education Specialist at NCBDDD. “Capitalizing on opportunities for increased visibility of folic acid and utilizing culturally appropriate tools such as promotoras to reach particular audiences through the year are ways to increase folic acid awareness and consumption."
NCBDDD has several ongoing folic acid education projects designed to reach Latinas of childbearing age, the group with the highest prevalence rate of NTD-affected pregnancies. A cooperative agreement with the National Council on Folic Acid allows NCBDDD to support the importance of folic acid consumption a broader, national scale, while another cooperative agreement with Migrant Health Promotion promotes folic acid to Spanish-speaking Latinas living in migrant colonies along the Texas-Mexico border. NCBDDD is also currently working with the North Carolina March of Dimes to reach Spanish-speaking Latinas in two North Carolina counties through the use of promotoras, or lay health outreach workers, to evaluate their program’s effectiveness. Another project with Hollywood, Health and Society will give NCBDDD the opportunity to increase the visibility and reach of the folic acid message through storylines in popular telenovelas and other Spanish-language broadcasting.
NCBDDD is eagerly spreading the word about the benefits of folic acid consumption among women of childbearing age. With more than half of pregnancies in the U.S. being unplanned, reaching women even before they are considering a pregnancy is critical to the success of their efforts.
For more information on folic acid and NCBDDD efforts to prevent neural tube defects please visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/index.html
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