California Hispanic Women Have the Lowest Rate Of Folic Acid Consumption

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The use of folic acid, a dietary supplement that can prevent neuraltube birth defects, among Hispanic women of childbearing age inCalifornia declined between 2002 and 2006, compared with gradualincreases in consumption among other groups, according to a studypublished Friday in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Accordingto the study, from 2002 to 2006, the percentage of Hispanic womentaking daily supplements with folic acid declined slightly from 32.8%to 30.2% despite a 10-year public health effort that has increasedconsumption among black, white and Asian women. Overall, in 2006, 50.6%of white women, 39.5% of black women and 40% of Asian women or women ofother races used daily folic acid supplements, the study found.

Expertssuggested that lower rates of folic acid consumption among Hispanicwomen may be because they receive less health counseling, have lowereducation levels and delay prenatal care. Cultural differences alsomight contribute to fewer Hispanic women consuming folic acid,according to Michelle Bholat, a Hispanic family physician at University of California-Los Angeles.

Statehealth officials are concerned that the low rates of folic acidconsumption by Hispanic women could lead to an increase in the state'soverall birth defect rate because more than 50% of infants born in thestate are to Hispanic women. Previous studies have indicated thatHispanic women in the state already have nearly doubled the neural tubebirth defects compared to white women (Chong, Los Angels Times, 10/26).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserWeekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives,and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published forkaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.

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