Key Findings: Improving Healthcare Counseling Among Hispanic Women Before They Become Pregnant

Healthcare providers can help women have healthier pregnancies by talking with them about two very important topics: folic acid and the use of medicines in pregnancy.

These conversations were the subject of a recent article published in the Journal of Women’s Health.  You can read about the study here.

Why are these discussions important?

Taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily (available in multivitamins) can reduce the risk of a baby having a serious birth defect of the brain (anencephaly) or spine (spina bifida).

It is also important that healthcare providers talk to women who are pregnant or considering getting pregnant about the medicines they are currently taking. Some medicines can be harmful during pregnancy.

About This Study

In the study, researchers asked Hispanic women

  • How often they took a multivitamin; and
  • If their healthcare provider talked to them about taking medicines before or during their pregnancies.
Medical exam. Healthcare and medical concept.

Main Findings from This Study

The study found areas for improvement. Specifically,

  • Nearly 7 in 10 of the women surveyed were not taking a daily multivitamin;
  • Only about half of women who said their healthcare provider talked with them about medicine use during pregnancy did so before they became pregnant; and
  • Almost 2 in 10 women surveyed said that their healthcare provider never talked with them about medicine use in pregnancy.

Healthcare providers and public health professionals can help women have a healthy pregnancy by

  • Encouraging all women of reproductive age to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day; and
  • Talking with women who take potentially harmful medicines before pregnancy about other options.

Our Work

Since 2001, CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities has worked to prevent birth defects in the United States. Research shows that taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily can help prevent neural tube defects.

Through its Treating for Two: Safer Medication Use in Pregnancy initiative, CDC works with its partners, other federal agencies, and the public to understand trends in medicine use among pregnant women and women of reproductive age. Treating for Two also provides women and healthcare providers with information about the safety or risk of using specific medicines during pregnancy. This information helps women and their doctors to make knowledgeable decisions about treating health conditions during pregnancy.

More Information

Key Findings Reference

Interrante JD, Flores AL. Discussing appropriate medication use and multivitamin intake with a healthcare provider: An examination of two elements of preconception care among Latinas. Journal of Women’s Health. 2017 [published online ahead of print].