DHHS Joins Forces with UNH to Educate Women About Folic Acid

Free Supplies of Multi-Vitamins Available

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Folic Acid Education Program is teaming up with the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Student Health Services to offer a free 6-month supply of multi-vitamins to female students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day by taking a daily multivitamin and eating a diet rich in folate/folic acid, even for those not planning a pregnancy.

Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps reduce the incidence of birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. These birth defects affect the brain and spine of the baby. “The number of neural tube defects may be reduced by as much as 70 percent with the daily consumption of folic acid” said Mary Ann Cooney, Director of the Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) at DHHS.

Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it’s important to educate young women on the benefits of folic acid before they start thinking about having a family. Inadequate folic acid intake is common in young women between the ages of 18 and 24. These young women often have poor nutrition habits and usually are not contemplating pregnancy. This public health effort between DHHS and UNH will help to promote healthy eating for nutritionally at-risk college students.

Staff members from the UNH Health Services’ Office of Health Education and Promotion and students from the Department of Animal and Nutrition Sciences will distribute the multivitamins along with educational materials from the CDC.

For more information about the UNH Folic Acid Pilot Project log onto www.unh.edu/health-services/ohep/folic-acid.html or call the UNH Office of Health Education and Promotion, Health Services at 862-3823 or call the NH Folic Acid Education Program at 1-800-852-3310 ext 0571. For more information on the New Hampshire Folic Acid Education Program, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dhhs/wic/default.htm.