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June, 2007

Hispanic Health Program



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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Council on Folic Acid and the National Alliance on Hispanic Health have promoted folic acid use/consumption before pregnancy to prevent serious birth defects -- spina bifida and anencephaly.

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Hispanic/Latina women have a risk 1.5 to 3 times higher than non-Hispanic white women for having a child affected by these birth defects.

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Hispanic/Latina women have lower blood folate levels, and are less likely to consume foods fortified with folic acid.

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Hispanic/Latina women are less likely to have heard about folic acid, to know it can prevent birth defects, or take vitamins containing folic acid before pregnancy.


National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) has conducted a campaign to increase awareness of folic acid among Hispanic/Latina women. Activities include development of television, radio, and print messages in English and Spanish. Voluntary public service advertisements and paid media outreach were conducted. Both interventions focused on folic acid education for health care providers who work with Hispanic/Latina women. The paid campaign used community lay health workers (promotoras).

Example of program in action:
  Pilot testing was completed in San Antonio and Miami at the end of 2002. Initial analysis of pre- and post-campaign survey data show increased awareness of folic acid among Hispanic/Latina women in these cities. In addition, the increase in knowledge translated into an increased use of folic acid. Following the paid media intervention, the knowledge and consumption patterns among Hispanic/Latina women were more similar to those of non-Hispanic women. Additional analyses are underway, and results will be used to improve the campaign and sustain the results.


Long term continuation of this campaign and its evaluation should ultimately change the behaviors of Hispanic/Latina women prior to pregnancy and decrease the rate of neural tube defects in the Hispanic/Latino population. This will hopefully close the gap of health disparities between white and minority populations in the U.S., where this birth defect is concerned.

For more information, contact the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Mailstop F45, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta, GA 30341; (770) 488-7703;;

Back to the Hispanic/Latino Populations Page



Hispanic Health Program
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ATSDR Hispanic Health Program
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Assessing Hispanic Health: Data Activities
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Communicating Workplace Safety & Health in Spanish
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Folic Acid Knowledge & Use Among Hispanic Women

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Immigrant/ Hispanic Agricultural Worker Safety & Health
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Minority AIDS Initiative
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Preventing Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies Among Hispanic Women
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