National Council on Folic Acid

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A Coalition to Promote the Vitamin Folic Acid for the Prevention of Birth Defects


To reduce birth defects by promoting the consumption of folic acid among reproductive-age women.


The goal of NCFA is to reduce the number of neural tube defect affected pregnancies by recommending that women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily, from fortified foods and/or supplements, in addition to consuming food folate from a varied diet.


1. Increase the proportion of women who understand that consuming folic acid daily can help prevent birth defects.

*Conduct broad-based public health education campaigns through all available media.
*Partner with corporations to increase exposure for the folic acid message.
*Develop, demonstrate and evaluate model programs to reach reproductive age women of various social and economic groups.
*Conduct behavioral research to identify barriers to use of supplements.

2. Make folic acid awareness a routine and standard part of the delivery of preventive health care services to women.

*Work with national and state professional organizations to encourage physicians, nurses, nutritionists and other health professionals to counsel women to consume a supplement containing folic acid daily.
*Work with managed care organizations, government programs, and nonprofit organizations to incorporate folic acid educational interventions into their existing programs and services.
*Develop, demonstrate and evaluate model programs to teach health care providers how to educate their patients about the need for folic acid supplements.

3. Increase the level and availability of folic acid in food.

*Conduct research and convene experts to determine most effective, safe level of folic acid fortification.
*Conduct research and monitor medical literature to identify other health benefits of folic acid fortification (cleft lip, cleft palate, heart defects, heart disease, stroke).
*Conduct and monitor research to assess any adverse effects of folic acid consumption on adult health.
*Build relationships with administration and congressional officials to share new knowledge relative to folic acid fortification benefits and appropriate levels.

4. Evaluate the effectiveness of folic acid projects and programs and share lessons learned.

*Conduct public opinion surveys to assess awareness of folic acid and use of supplements among women of childbearing potential.
*Evaluate methods and build capacity for blood folate survey research.
*Conduct birth defects surveillance to measure incidence of spina bifida and anencephaly.

What is the Council?

The Council is a coalition of organizations committed to promoting the consumption of the B vitamin folic acid for the prevention of birth defects.

How was the Council formed?

The staff of the Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at CDC recognized the need to involve as many organizations as possible in the effort to educate the American public about the Public Health Service recommendation that all women consume 400 mcg of folic acid daily to prevent the serious birth defects of spina bifida and anencephaly. Discussions began with CDC, the March of Dimes, the Spina Bifida Association of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a state health department representative. The idea was received with enthusiasm and the fledgling organization expanded quickly.

Where is the Council now?

National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition has assumed leadership of the National Council on Folic Acid in 2002. The Council meets quarterly to coordinate educational activities related to the national campaign. The Council launched its education campaign in January, 1999. The campaign is based on messages and materials developed and tested by market research experts contracted by CDC. In order to maximize the reach of the campaign, the Council will share materials and implementation plans with many other groups from the fields of health care, public health, and business. Toward this end, the Council is expanding to include representatives from other organizations with activities and a commitment to increasing folic acid consumption for the prevention of NTDs. The current members of the Council, as of December 31, 1998, will serve as the Steering Committee of this alliance. If your organization is interested in joining the National Council on Folic Acid, please contact:

Donna Gentry
NCFA Program Manager
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition
121 N. Washington Street, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 836-6110, Fax: (703) 836-3470,

Web site:

Member organizations of the Council:

1.Alabama Folic Acid Council
2.Alliance of Genetic Support Groups
3.American Academy of Family Physicians
4.American Academy of Pediatrics
5.American Academy of Physician Assistants
6.American Association of Health Plans
7.American College of Medical Genetics
8.American College of Nurse Practitioners
9.American College of Nurse-Midwives
10.American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
11.American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine
12.American College of Preventive Medicine
13.American Dietetic Association
14.American Medical Association
15.American Medical Student Association
16.American Medical Women's Association
17.American Pharmaceutical Association
18.American Society for Reproductive Medicine
19.The Arc of the United States
20.Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
21.Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
22.Association of State and Territorial Health Office
23.Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors
24.Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
25.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
26.Council for Responsible Nutrition
27.Health Resources and Services Administration
28.March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
29.National Association of Hispanic Nurses
30.National Association of Neonatal Nurses
31.National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health
32.National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners
33.National Association of School Nurses, Inc.
34.National Association of WIC Directors
35.National Birth Defects Prevention Network
36.National Black Nurses Association
37.National Alliance of Hispanic Health
38.National Council on La Raza
39.National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition
40.National Perinatal Association
41.National Society of Genetic Counselors
42.Pan American Health Organization
43.Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
44.Shriners Hospitals for Children
45.Spina Bifida Association of America
46.The Teratology Society
47.University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
48.USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
49.Wheat Foods Council

Organizations in bold comprise the Steering Committee

Member list as of March 13, 2003

We appreciate your support and efforts in raising awareness about the importance of folic acid!
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