Folic Acid is a B vitamin that is an essential nutrient for healthy growth and development. The U.S. Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day to help prevent major birth defects of the baby's brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs).
About 3,000 pregnancies are affected by NTDs each year in the U.S. It is estimated if women took folic acid every day before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy, it may help reduce the number of pregnancies affected by NTDs by up to 70 percent.
NTDs are detected through an alpha-fetoprotein test (AFP). AFP is a blood test administered at 16-18 weeks of pregnancy. The test measures alpha-fetoprotein, a substance produced by the fetus and secreted into the amniotic fluid. An elevated AFP can mean the mother is carrying twins or that there is a problem with the placenta. An elevated AFP can also mean that there is the possibility of birth defects present such as kidney or liver disease, Down syndrome, spina bifida, or other defects. Additional follow up and testing will be conducted by the healthcare provider if an elevated AFP is detected.
Foods that contain folic acid include:
- Beans, like lentils, pinto beans, and black beans
- Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and Romaine lettuce
- Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit
- Enriched or fortified grains, cereals, and pasta
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- March of Dimes
- American Pregnancy Association
- Facts About Folic Acid
Care for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN)
A groundbreaking set of standards and companion background have been released. These standards address the core components of an effective system of care for CYSHCN. The Children's Rehabilitation Service will work to incorporate these standards of care in Alabama.
Disparities in Child Passenger Safety
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children less than 15 years of age. But American Indian/Alaskan Native children die as passengers at a higher rate than any other racial/ethnic group. Read the whole story.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a federal initiative devoted to preventing and treating FASD. FASD comprises a range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.
Fetal Movement Counting
Healthcare providers usually recommend that you begin counting movements around the seventh month of pregnancy. Your Baby's Activity Record provides a method of monitoring the movement of your unborn baby so that you can discuss any changes with your healthcare provider.
How to Apply for Medicaid For Pregnant Women
The Alabama Medicaid Maternity Care Program is designed to ensure every pregnant woman has access to medical care, to lower Alabama's infant mortality rate, and to improve the health of mothers and infants. Even is you do not know about the income guidelines, apply for Medicaid. Your local eligibility worker will help you determine if you qualify. More information is available on our brochure, and you may apply online at Insure Alabama or at your local county health department, federally qualified health care center, or some local hospitals. Call 1-800-362-1504 or visit Medicaid.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
- What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome? Available as a download through the Office of Women's Health.
- What is NAS? (March of Dimes)
Alabama Perinatal Excellence Collaborative (APEC)
- APEC was established to be a resource for obstetric and other healthcare providers throughout the state of Alabama for assistance in improving perinatal outcomes and ultimately the health and welfare of women and infants throughout Alabama.
- Download the APEC guidelines to your smartphone.
- Download the My Family Plan app for mothers.
Maternity Care Coordination Services
Maternity Care Coordination Services are available to eligible Women, Infants, and Children Program recipients. Download the brochure .
Oral Health During Pregnancy
Getting healthy before pregnancy and staying healthy throughout is an important priority for expectant moms. And oral health is a vital part of overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, oral health issues can be common during pregnancy. And more than half of women report not seeing a dental professional during pregnancy. Up to 70% of pregnant women experience gingivitis associated with changes in hormone levels during pregnancy. Some studies indicate there may be an association between poor maternal oral health and preterm birth. To learn more go to: Dental Care or Brushing for Two: How Your Oral Health Affects Baby.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Depression Toolkit - Many mothers struggle daily with depression. Depression is a real condition that can affect mood, appetite, and health. This toolkit is designed for community-based providers to offer ideas and resources for helping mothers, and their families, who may be suffering from depression.
- Jenny's Light was established with the mission to improve and save lives by increasing awareness of perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression.
- Postpartum Support, International is dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression. They also work to educate family, friends and healthcare providers so that moms and moms-to-be can get the support they need and recover.
- Moms and moms-to-be deserve the best--including the very best mental health. With as many as 1 in 9 women experiencing depression before, during, and after pregnancy, it is vital for women to learn to recognize the symptoms of depression and to seek treatment if needed. In observance of Mental Health month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a feature on maternal depression that includes information about maternal depression and resources that can help.
- PostpartumDepression.org is a community website sharing the stories of women and men who have experienced postpartum depression (PPD).
Presentations from the November 14, 2014 Prematurity Summit sponsored by the Alabama Department of Public Health in collaboration with the March of Dimes. These presentations were recorded and are now available for viewing on-demand.
- Perinatal Depression by Robin G. Lanzi, Ph.D., M.P.H.
- Chronic Disease & Prematurity by John B. Waits, M.D., F.A.A.F.P.
- Preterm Birth in Alabama by Joseph R. Biggio, Jr., M.D.
- Prematurity Prevention by Judy Q. Lilley, B.S.
- Sleep-Related Infant Deaths by Michael D. Warren, M.D., M.P.H.
- Obesity and Pregnancy by Annie McCartney, M.S.N., W.H.N.P.-B.C.
- Socio-economics/Disparities and The Nashville Project by Nina F. Johnson, M.D.
Page last updated: June 21, 2019