Tag Archives: pregnant women

Folic Acid Awareness Week: This Vitamin Helps Guard Against Birth Defects

This week — January 7-13 — is Folic Acid Awareness Week. Did you know that taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can prevent up to 70 percent of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine?

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women between the ages of 15 and 45 consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to prevent two types of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. These birth defects develop within the first few weeks of pregnancy, which is why it’s important to have enough folic acid in your body BEFORE becoming pregnant and to continue getting enough during early pregnancy.

Every woman needs folic acid daily, whether she’s planning to get pregnant or not. For one thing, almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.  Also, folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells. The body — the skin, hair, nails and other parts of the body — makes healthy new cells daily.
Women who could possibly become pregnant can consume 400 mcg of folic acid every day by:

  • taking a daily multi-vitamin containing folic acid, and
  • eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, or breakfast cereals.

For more information on folic acid, visit the CDC website or the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website.

FolicAcid Fact Sheet

DHEC in the News: flu, Surfside Beach’s proposed ban of plastic bags

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

SC Health Department encourages pregnant women to get flu shots

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging pregnant women to get their flu shots.

According to a recent panel survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control, many pregnant women are at risk of getting the flu this season.

Worst SC Flu Season in 8 Years’ May Be Underway

Lexington, SC (WLTX) – This may be the worst flu season in South Carolina in eight years, according to doctors with Lexington Medical Center.

The hospital said Tuesday that in the first week of this year, they’ve had 300 cases of the flu. That compares to 550 cases in December, and just 80 in the month of November.

The most recent flu activity report from DHEC, which was done at the end of last month, showed that the flu was ‘widespread’ in the state. That same survey found that Richland County had the highest number of cases in the Midlands over a one week period.

Plastic bags on route to being banned in Surfside Beach

SURFSIDE BEACH

Plastic bags may soon be banned from the Town of Surfside Beach, after the town council passed the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday night.

“I think banning plastic bags is a good thing,” Surfside Beach Mayor Bill Childs said. “I think this is a good thing that Mrs. Samples has brought forward, and I certainly hope that council does support this. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Protect Yourself and Baby: Get Your Flu Shot

Catching the flu is never good, especially when you’re pregnant. The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than those who are not pregnant. DHEC is encouraging pregnant women to get their flu shots.

As of November 2017, the influenza vaccination coverage among pregnant women before and during pregnancy was 35.6 percent, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Panel Survey.

“The percentage is alarming because it means that almost two-thirds of pregnant women are potentially not protected,” said Dr. Tracy Foo, DHEC’s Immunization and Acute Disease Epidemiology Division. “Pregnant women are encouraged to get their flu shot because it’s never too late to protect yourself and your baby.”

The flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against the illness. When given during pregnancy, the flu shot has been shown to protect both the mother and baby for several months after birth. The flu shot can be administered during any trimester of pregnancy.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, cough, headache or muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat, and nasal congestion or stuffiness. Any pregnant woman experiencing these symptoms is urged to contact their healthcare provider immediately. The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, and pharmacies, as well as by many employers. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else like a health department, pharmacy, and urgent care clinic. You can find your local flu clinic on DHEC’s website.