December 15, 2016

Have a Healthy Pregnancy – What Mothers-to-Be Should Know About Folic Acid

Preparing for the birth of a child can never start too early. That’s the message of the March of Dimes North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign, an initiative aimed at reducing birth defects and improving birth outcomes statewide. Part of the Every Woman North Carolina program, the campaign educates women on the importance of folic acid and multivitamins before pregnancy.

shutterstock-pregnant-woman-af-amTake Folic Acid

“Women should be taking 400 mcg (micrograms) of folic acid at least four months before pregnancy,” said Jennifer Vickery, N.C. Preconception Health Educator at Mission Health. “We take the benefits of folic acid message into the schools and out into the community.”

Folic acid, explained Vickery, helps prevent neural tube defects, which are defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord. These include spina bifida and anencephaly. “Oftentimes, those two neural tube defects are formed before most women even know they’re pregnant,” said Vickery, “so if you’re not intending to become pregnant and you don’t have enough folic acid, you increase your risk. We encourage women to take folic acid every day, even if you’re not intending to become pregnant.”

Top Things Mothers-to-Be Need to Know About Folic Acid

  • Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.
  • Women should be taking 400 micrograms of folic acid at least four months before pregnancy.
  • During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin with 600 micrograms of folic acid in it every day.
  • Take a multivitamin with folic acid every day, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.

Source: March of Dimes

Have Questions? MotherToBaby NC Has Answers

MotherToBaby NC is a free, statewide service that provides evidence-based information about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. “We answer questions about prescription and over-the-counter medications, supplements, drugs, alcohol, personal care products, chemicals, illnesses and more,” said Lorrie Harris Sagaribay, MPH, coordinator of MotherToBaby NC. “The CDC has featured MotherToBaby on its website as a resource for information about Zika virus and pregnancy.”

Get advice from the pregnancy and breastfeeding experts at MotherToBaby  NC by calling toll-free 1-800-532-6302, texting 855-999-3525 or visiting All services are free of charge, confidential and available in English or Spanish.

Jennifer Vickery is the N.C. Preconception Health Educator at Mission Health. (828) 213-0031

Lorrie Harris Sagaribay, MPH, is coordinator of MotherToBaby NC. (828) 213-6827