Health Professionals:

Delivering the Message

Regretfully, we have not met target goals on a national basis or in Florida!

Progress Made

Folic acid education efforts have been extensive. In 1997, the CDC initiated the National Council on Folic Acid (NCFA), comprised of 15 of the country's leading organizations concerned about maternal and infant health. In 1998, the March of Dimes launched a multi-year national folic acid campaign with the goal of increasing awareness of the preventive effects of folic acid consumption.

State agencies, organizations, private businesses and universities have banded together to promote folic acid intake. As a result of these efforts, the Florida Folic Acid Coalition came together in 1999 to spearhead folic acid educational activities in Florida.

Since 1995, the March of Dimes has commissioned The Gallup Organization to conduct a series of national telephone surveys of women ages 18 to 45 years to measure changes in women's awareness and behavior relative to folic acid and other pre-pregnancy issues. The table below summarizes the findings comparing the most recent data (2008) to baseline (1995) ( March of Dimes, 2008).

MOD Survey Questions (Women age 18-45) 1995 2008
Aware of folic acid 52% 84%
Take a vitamin with folic acid daily 28% 39%
Knew folic acid prevented birth defects 4% 20%
Knew should take folic acid before becoming pregnant 2% 11%
Heard About Folic Acid From:
Print Media--magazine or newspaper    35% 29%
Broadcast--radio or television    10% 23%
Health care provider 13% 33%

Source: March of Dimes, 2008.

Goals Not Yet Met

Here is where we stand with respect to the Healthy People 2020 goals:

Healthy People 2020 Goal

Current Standing, Nationally (DHHS, 2017)

Current Standing, Florida (FDOH, 2017)

10% reduction in spina bifida occurrence (34.2 to 30.8 cases per 100,000 live births)*


( 2010 data)


(2012 data)

10% reduction in anencephaly occurrence (24.6 to 22.1 cases per 100,000 live births)*


( 2010 data)


(2012 data)

10% increase in non-pregnant women consuming 400+ micrograms folic acid (23.8% to 26.2%)


( 2007- 2010 data)


(2007 data)**

10% reduction in women of childbearing potential who have lower red blood cell folate concentrations (24.9% to 22.4%)


( 2007-2010 data)

No data available

10% increase in women delivering a live birth who took multivitamins/folic acid prior to pregnancy (30.3% to 33.3%)


( 2011 data)


( 2007 data)**

* It is estimated that the observed decline in NTD affected pregnancies has been primarily due to the fortification of cereal grain foods with folic acid (de Jong-van den Berg et al., 2005).
** This value refers to the percentage of women age 18-44 who reported taking a multivitamin.

Health professional

Did you know? Eighty nine percent of women who do not take vitamins indicated that if their health provider counseled them about the benefits they would probably take it.

Although advances in fetal surgery for spina bifida are encouraging and provide hope for affected babies and their families, primary prevention should be underscored and can help many such families avoid the heartache of experiencing an NTD.

Health professionals