MDCH Recognizes May 14-20 As National Women's Health Week

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

May 15, 2006

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and the Michigan Association of Genetic Counselors reminds women of childbearing age to take appropriate steps to better health to ensure optimizing the chances of having a healthy baby.

Being in good health and adopting healthy habits prior to getting pregnant can help prevent certain birth defects. The simplest and most effective preconceptional health habit is to take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms (400 mcg or 0.4 mg) of folic acid in addition to consuming a healthy, varied diet. Up to 70 percent of birth defects of the spinal cord and brain, known as neural tube defects (such as spina bifida and anencephaly), can be prevented by taking daily folic acid prior to becoming pregnant and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.

“Adding folic acid to individual diets has added benefits for everyone’s health,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan’s Surgeon General. “New research suggests folic acid may also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer.”

Wisdom also advises pregnant women to remember that routine prenatal care visits are important for the health of both mother and baby. Women should avoid smoking and alcohol consumption and take time to document their family health history, including family members with birth defects, learning disabilities, and chronic diseases. The information gathered should be shared with your health care provider.

For more information on pre and postnatal health, please visit the MDCH website at www.michigan.gov/mdch. For more information on family health history, please go to www.MiGeneticsConnection.org.