The Hispanic Folic Acid Program



Raising Awareness and Providing Resources for Birth Defect Prevention

Greenwood Genetic Center and PASOs initiated a partnership in 2009 to expand outreach and education efforts about folic acid to the Latino population, which is at higher risk for neural tube defects (NTDs) and orofacial clefts.

The Hispanic Folic Acid Program works hand-in-hand with the SC Birth Defects Prevention Program to raise awareness of neural tube defects and how folic acid helps to prevent them. Program coordinators and promotores throughout the state provide culturally tailored education on folic acid through workshops, outreach events, and prenatal classes. Program efforts are further concentrated in Greenville County, where the Latino population is the largest and where, at the time of the program’s inception, there were alarming numbers of Latino children born with NTDs.

Greenwood Genetic Center reports that in 2011, only one incidence of a Hispanic baby born with an NTD was reported in South Carolina – a testament to the success of this partnership.

Activities across South Carolina with a concentration in Greenville County include:

  • Conducting outreach to Latino families through community-based events and Spanish media outlets, including radio and newspaper
  • Providing culturally appropriate education on folic acid through individual consultations and prenatal classes
  • Distributing free folic acid multivitamins to pregnant women and non-pregnant women of childbearing age and conducting follow-up phone calls to women who receive the vitamins
  • Collaborating with promotores to spread culturally appropriate messages on folic acid and prevention of neural tube defects
  • Assisting Greenwood Genetic Center in educating Latino families who have had a child with a neural tube defect to decrease recurrence and maintain contact for follow-up


In the last 12 months of the program, over 1,500 bottles of folic acid vitamins have been distributed to Latina women of child-bearing age in South Carolina. Over 1,700 culturally appropriate educational materials about folic acid and neural tube defects were distributed as well!

In Greenville County, 47% of the women reached had no previous knowledge of folic acid, and 92% of the women given vitamins continued taking them 30-60 days later. Our numbers indicate that our efforts are truly impacting the lives of Hispanic women and their families.


For more information about the program in  Greenville County, call 864-455-8876 or 864-395-9443, or email  Julie Smithwick at or (803) 777-5466.


Here are some links to resources about folic acid, many of which are in Spanish:

March of Dimes (

The North Carolina Folic Acid Campaign

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (English)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Spanish)

The Greenwood Genetic Center Folic Acid Campaign


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