WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. and WAYNE, N.J., March 15, 2011 – Vanessa Minnillo is making it a priority to share an important public health message with women nationwide. Minnillo is working with March of Dimes® and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals to help educate all women of reproductive age about the importance of folate and folic acid through a national educational campaign called Girlfriends for Folate (www.GirlfriendsforFolate.com). DailyCandy.com, the popular and trendy online resource for women, has also committed to engaging its extensive membership of women to help spread the word about daily folate supplementation.
Folate, a B vitamin (synthetically available as folic acid), helps regenerate cells. When taken before pregnancy and during the early months of pregnancy, it helps reduce the risk of serious birth defects of the spine or brain, also known as neural tube defects (NTDs). March of Dimes® recommends that all women of reproductive age supplement their diet with at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Further, an objective of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Healthy People 2020 national initiative is to increase the proportion of women of childbearing potential with intake of at least 400 mcg of folic acid from fortified foods or dietary supplements – an objective which was not met in 2010. The launch of Girlfriends for Folate marks a shared commitment on behalf of Minnillo, DailyCandy.com, March of Dimes® and Bayer to help the HHS reach this goal.
“I had heard about folate before and knew it was important for women, but I wasn’t aware that it was recommended for all women of reproductive age,” said Minnillo. “I’m taking action now by ensuring I get the recommended amount of folate in my diet.”
Many women lack a basic understanding of folate and are not aware of its benefits. A new omnibus survey4 of 643 American women aged 18-45 years conducted by March of Dimes® and Bayer found that nearly half of women (43 percent) are unaware of the health benefits of taking folate or folic acid daily. Further, 67 percent reported they do not take a supplement containing folate or folic acid daily, with more than half (52 percent) saying they don’t take a supplement containing folic acid at all. The survey also found that women who were knowledgeable about folate were more likely than those who were not knowledgeable to ever take a supplement containing folate or folic acid (76 percent versus 32 percent).
“For more than a decade, March of Dimes® has been committed to educating women of reproductive age about the importance of folate and folic acid. We are thrilled that Bayer is joining us in these efforts through Girlfriends for Folate,” said Janis Biermann, MS, senior vice president, education and health promotion, March of Dimes. “According to 2001 data, nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. If all women planning or capable of becoming pregnant took the recommended amount of folate or folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it is estimated that up to 50 percent of NTDs could be prevented.”
If women have questions about folate or folic acid supplementation, they should speak with their healthcare provider.
Bayer Gives Back with Exciting National GFF Competition
Girlfriends for Folate kicks off with a national competition to identify the U.S. region with the most “GFFs.” Women can join the GFF movement by registering at www.GirlfriendsforFolate.com. For every woman who becomes a GFF, Bayer will contribute $1, up to $25,000, to support 2011 March of Dimes March for Babies®, the organization’s largest fundraiser that raises funds to improve the health of babies. Through education, like raising awareness about the importance of folate and folic acid intake, and community programs, March of Dimes® helps moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. Bayer is also a national sponsor of March of Dimes® March for Babies.
The region with the most GFFs will be recognized nationally during its local March of Dimes® March for Babies, where Minnillo will join other women committed to spreading the word about the importance of daily folate intake. The GFF who raises the most money for March of Dimes® March for Babies will win the opportunity to march alongside Minnillo, showcasing their shared commitment to the mission of Girlfriends for Folate.
“Bayer and March of Dimes® share a strong heritage in supporting women’s health. We are proud to support March of Dimes® March for Babies,” said Leslie North, vice president of marketing, Women’s HealthCare, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. “It is our hope that through our partnership on Girlfriends for Folate – and by working with Vanessa Minnillo and DailyCandy.com – we can encourage more women to learn about folate or folic acid.”
Bayer and March of Dimes® invite women to become GFFs so they can spread the word to others. Visit www.GirlfriendsforFolate.com to learn how to become a GFF and support March of Dimes® March for Babies.
About March of Dimes®
March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its signature event, March for Babies, March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.
About Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the U.S.-based pharmaceuticals business of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a subsidiary of Bayer AG. Bayer HealthCare is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry, and combines the activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions. As a specialty pharmaceutical company, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals provides products for Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Hematology, Neurology, Oncology and Women’s Healthcare. The company's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human health worldwide by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.
Rose Talarico, Deputy Director, External Product Communications
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals
Phone: (973) 305-5302
Todd P. Dezen, Associate Director, Media Relations, March of Dimes
Phone: (914) 997-4608
Elizabeth Lynch, Manager, Print Media Relations, March of Dimes
Phone: (914) 997-4286
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate/. Accessed on 1/20/11.
The March of Dimes. Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center: Folic Acid. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/hbhb_syndication/173_769.asp. Accessed on 1/5/11.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Developing Healthy People 2020: Maternal, Infant and Child Health. Available at: http://www.healthypeople.gov/. Accessed on 2/16/11.
4 Nationally representative 2011 online survey conducted by TNS Global targeting 1,321 American women ages 18 and older. Of this, 657 women were 18-45 years old. Margin of error was +/- 3.8%. Survey questions included: How knowledgeable would you say you are about folate, which is a B vitamin? How often do you take a supplement containing folate or folic acid?