Local News

State program offers free multi-vitamins to women

Posted July 6, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 6, 2010 7:26 p.m. EDT

— Some health professionals say a multi-vitamin, specifically one with folic acid, can make a big difference in preventing birth defects. State health agencies are providing these pills for free to some women.

“A lot of people don’t know about folic acid, specifically, and its links to birth defects,” said Megan Fazekas, communications coordinator of the North Carolina Folic Acid Council.

Studies show that if all women consumed the recommended dose of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, 70 percent of birth defects involving the brain and spine could be prevented. Since some pregnancies can be unplanned, health providers recommend women of child-bearing age take folic acid all the time.

“As soon as a young lady starts her menstrual cycle, she should start taking folic acid,” Durham County Health Director Gayle Harris said.

The state funds a program that gives a year's supply of multi-vitamins with folic acid to low income women of child bearing age who aren't pregnant. Harris said without programs like these some women would never make vitamins a priority.

The Durham County Health Department has given the vitamins to 650 women since March. The vitamins are available at all health departments and participating clinics. A woman does not have to register with the agency to get them.

“If all these health departments and health care providers reach out to women, there could be a huge impact across the state,” Fazekas said.