Tag Archives: birth defects


Arizona Community Foundation awards $25K to AFHP

The Arizona Community Foundation has awarded the Arizona Family Health Partnership (AFHP) a $25,000 grant to implement a statewide public awareness and education campaign for young women about the importance of taking B vitamin folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

Research consistently shows that the highest rate of unintended pregnancies is among women 18 to 24, a population with the lowest awareness of the benefits of folic acid and its role in preventing birth defects.  Folic acid has been proven highly effective preventing birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs), which affect the brain and spine.

AFHP will use the funds to activate the Project B Aware campaign, first piloted in 2010 in Phoenix-area high schools by the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter and the Arizona Department of Health Services through a one-time federal grant.

The result of the pilot program was a 50 percent increase in knowledge about folic acid among participating high school students.

“Young women, particularly those who are low-income, are at high risk of unplanned pregnancies and at higher risk of having a baby born with an NTD due to their lack of knowledge about folic acid,” said AFHP CEO Brenda “Bré” Thomas.  “Despite being described as an ‘astounding public health silver bullet’ by a 2008 Gallup poll, only 39 percent of women ages 18 to 45 take folic acid daily.”

Research shows that lack of awareness and lack of advice in recommending foliate supplements before and during pregnancies is the primary reason young women don’t take folic acid.

“This important funding from the Arizona Community Foundation will enable us to use the previously created March of Dimes Folic Acid 400 curriculum to reach a much broader statewide audience with this critical health information,” Thomas said.
AFHP will use the March of Dimes-developed curriculum that has been adapted for teens.
The Project B Aware program includes a folic acid pre-test administered to all students and teachers, a PowerPoint presentation about folic acid with interactive student participation, a post-test, a list of foliate-rich foods and information about the importance of taking folic acid daily, and a survey to assess the presentation.

AFHP will recruit and train folic acid educators, identify and coordinate program presentations at specific high schools and administer the pre-and-post tests.  The program ends in April 2014.  AFHP will partner with Kappa Delta Chi sorority to provide the folic acid education.

AFHP expects to complete presentations to approximately 1,400 students.
For more information about the Arizona Family Health Partnership and Project B Aware, visit www.arizonafamilyhealth.org or call (602) 258-5777 in Maricopa County and (888) 272-5652 outside Maricopa County.


FDA approves return of nausea treatment

The only drug specifically designed for the treatment of morning sickness in pregnant women will be back on the market in June of this year. The treatment was pulled from shelves thirty years ago but a thorough investigation finds the drug safe and the FDA gave its approval yesterday.

“This is fabulous news,” says Dr. Stephanie Freeman of MomDoc Women For Women, with 15 offices throughout the Valley. “Obstetricians have been using Unisom as an off label medication for pregnancy related nausea for years, and the ingredients are similar.  To have Bendectin back as an option will provide relief of pregnancy related nausea for many women without as much of the sedation side effects of many medications we use now.”

FDA approval means a new version of the drug formerly known as Bendectin will return to United States pharmacies under a different name, Diclegis. The drug is considered safe and effective in treating nausea. In the thirty years since it was removed, the treatment has undergone more scrutiny for safety than any other drug used during pregnancy.

The original scare came from lawsuits claiming the drug caused birth defects. What the research found is that there are any given numbers of pregnancies which result in children with birth defects. Government estimates are 1 in 33 babies are born with birth defects regardless of medication used during the pregnancy. Studies concluded that Bendectin did not increase that risk.

More than half of all women experience at least some nausea and vomiting during pregnancy caused by hormonal swings. Only about one percent of women experience severe vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum, the condition which hospitalized Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge Kate last year.

The treatment’s ingredients are not magical. Vitamin B6 and over-the-counter antihistamine doxylamine found in some sleep aids are the main ingredients. The difference with this prescription only drug is that the ingredients are released in a delayed-reaction coating designed for daily dosage before nausea is a problem.

Doctors do advise trying alternatives first including eating protein snacks before bed and nibbling crackers or sipping ginger ale before getting out of bed. Frequent, small meals seem to help some women as well.