Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News!

Happy Summer!  With last week’s news about Plan B and news about dropping HPV rates among teens who have gotten the HPV, youth health seems to be a major focus right now.  Here are the stories that really caught our attention, along with links to learn more.

teengirlsHPV Rates among U.S. Teens  Drop Since Vaccination Began
The prevalence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) among U.S. teenage girls has dropped by more than half since a vaccine was introduced in 2006, even though vaccination rates are still relatively low, according to a CDC study that was published on Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.  To learn more, go to Women’s Health Policy Report.

New CDC Outreach Effort to A/PI Community On HEP B
Infographic: Hepatitis B among Americans born in Asia and the Pacific IslandsDid you know that people who were born in Asia and the Pacific Islands represent less than 5 percent of the U.S. population, but account for more than half of the 1.2 million Americans estimated to be living with hepatitis B? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just launched Know Hepatitis B, the first national multilingual, multi-year communications campaign to increase testing for hepatitis B among A/PI folks. To learn more, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/knowhepatitisb/. Click on the image at left for a great infographic on this topic.

What does the ACA (Obamacare) mean for you?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare,  is set to be fully in place by 2014.  What does it mean for the average person? KQED public radio has developed an easy-to-understand orientationto help people understand the ACA. Go to: http://www.kqed.org/news/health/obamacare/obamacare-guide.jsp#4.  Click here to learn more about preventive services that are covered for women, including

Vitamins-Step-2Do you know what’s in the herbs and supplements that you’re taking?
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and National Library of Medicine (NLM) have just launched a Dietary Supplement Label Database. The DSLD contains a searchable database of the full label contents from a large number of dietary supplement products marketed in the U.S. Go to: http://www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/

R1129Skipping Breakfast Could Raise Your Risk for Diabetes
A new study found that when women skipped the morning meal, they experienced  insulin resistance.  This is a condition where a person needs more insulin to bring their blood sugar into a normal range. While the study was done on women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 25, we would be surprised if skipping breakfast wouldn’t result in the same type of insulin resistance among all women, regardless of their weight. Click here to learn more.

Could a Little Alcohol be Safe During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are told to avoid alcohol  at all costs.   However, a new study published in the British Medical Journal found that moderate drinking (3 to 7 glasses of alcohol per week) didn’t harm developement of a fetus’ nervous system.  Go to WebMD to learn more: http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20130618/could-moderate-drinking-be-safe-during-pregnancy

Need a Condom? iCondom’s Got You Covered!

Ever needed a condom, but didn’t know where to get one fast?

Well now MTV Staying Alive and iCondom have got you covered.  The app helps users to find condoms when they need them, where they need them – even late at night.

This is how it works: The app allows users to instantly locate the nearest place that sells condoms via GPS. It also provides information which has been uploaded by other users about the dispenser or retailer – for example if the machine is broken or if the shop is open 24 hours. All this means iCondom will be used to create the world’s largest condom distribution map.

You can get the app for your iPhone here.

Info via: MTV Staying Alive.

Contest Alert – Go Folic Survey!

We here at Go Folic are excited to invite you to participate in a new survey – and have a chance to win $100!

We’ve been working hard to get the word out about folic acid via Facebook, Twitter, and our website.  But we want to make sure that all our Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and website visitors feel like they’re getting the stories, information, and features they need in accessible ways.

That’s where our new survey comes in.  Please take about 5 minutes to answer all our questions.  Your answers will be completely anonymous, but we’ll use your feedback to bring you new information and features on our websites.

Once you finish the survey, you will be redirected to a different page where you can enter your name and contact information into our drawing.  We will be giving away $100 Visa Gift Cards to THREE lucky survey participants.

We’ll be closing the survey soon, so check it out now!  Click here to take our survey!

Techy Tools from Go Folic Friends

As you saw in last week’s post, there are some exciting tools out there on the web to help keep you healthy.  Here are two more we’ve come across that we thought folks would enjoy.  One is a new app to help busy parents, another is a nifty tool to check the accuracy of online health information.

Trust It or Trash It?

There’s A LOT of information out there on the web.  But when it comes to your health, you want to make sure you’re getting the right information you need from people you can trust.  That’s where Trust It or Trash It comes in.

Developed by The Access To Credible Genetics (ATCG) Resource Network, this online tool asks you to think about:

  1. Who said it?
  2. When did they say it?
  3. How did they know?

We’ve all seen websites that promise us “information,” but are actually trying to sell us something.  Other times, the information on a website is so out of date, that might not actually be true anymore.  And sometimes, websites mean well, but they’ve gotten their information from an untrustworthy source.

Trust It or Trash It helps you to weed out some of this bad information.  To dig even deeper, check out Trust It or Trash It’s scale tools to check how reliable the information on a website is.

Your health is important!  Make sure you’re getting the right information online.

Evoz Online Baby Monitor

Over-protective parents go mobile!  (just kidding!)

It can be scary for new parents to be away from their babies, even for short amounts of time.  It’s especially hard when you have to go back to work and leave your little one at home or at daycare.

But now the folks at Evoz have got you covered.  With their baby monitoring app for mobile devices, you can not only receive messages when your baby is crying, but you can also track your baby’s sleep patterns over the days, weeks, and months!

The program can also help you connect with experts and health care organizations in your area if you become concerned about your baby’s health.

The app is not free and subscription prices vary.

Via: TechCrunch

How do you feel about these online health tools?  Have you ever found misleading information on a website?  Do you think the Evoz app goes too far?

Can Facebook Make People Healthier?

Here at Go Folic! we want to spread the word about the importance of folic acid in as many ways as possible.  When you pick up a bottle of free multivitamins at your clinic or check out our website, we hope that you think this is a cool idea and something you want to share with your friends.  This is called word-of-mouth promotion.  It’s how ideas spread from person to person.  It’s how we hope to make thousands of San Francisco women healthier, day by day.

Today, sites like Facebook and other social media networks make it very easy to share information.  All somebody has to do is post a link or a status update on their profile and suddenly hundreds, sometimes thousands of people can see what they want to share.  This happens really quickly especially when it’s a funny video or a current event or birthday wishes to a friend.  It’s a little harder when you’re an project wanting to spread information about health.

Lately everybody has been using Facebook and other sites like Twitter to promote their businesses and their interests.  But how well does it work when it’s no longer about something personal?  Or when it’s not attached to a celebrity or a company offer?  What makes us “like” causes online?  Would we listen to nutrition advice if we saw our Facebook friends paying attention?  How “social” can we be with our health?

These are all questions that we think about everyday as we try to spread the word about Go Folic!  There are already great organizations in the Bay Area, like ISIS and others, that have had great success using social media and text messages to promote sexual health.  By having an active blog, website, and Facebook page, we at Go Folic! hope we can spread the word about folic acid too.

What about you…Do you think Facebook can help spread the word about health issues?  What would you tweet?  Do you think that social media can help people make healthier choices?

Texting for Health

Exciting news from the Centers for Disease Control for those of us who might need a reminder every now and then about keeping healthy!

Even if you’re not planning to become pregnant anytime soon, it’s important to make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs.  As you may have heard, we here at Go Folic feel pretty strongly that women should be getting 400 mcg of folic acid every day – not only to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy, but also to protect against certain birth defects if you do become pregnant.  But with all that’s going on in your life, sometimes it’s really hard to remember to eat right and take your vitamins.

That’s where the CDC comes in.  Just by texting REMINDERS to 87000, you can get weekly reminders from the CDC with information about taking your vitamins, as well as other ways you can prevent birth defects (if you do decide to become pregnant down the line).  It’s free to sign up for the service, although standard texting rates do apply.

And you know what else is totally free?  Getting free multivitamins from Go Folic!  If you’ve recently run out or are in need of vitamins with 400 mcg of folic acid, there are a few ways to get your vitamins:

  • Call us at 1-800-300-9950
  • Stop by our office: 30 Van Ness, Ste. 260, San Francisco (@ Market)
  • Email us: gofolic@yahoo.com
  • If you are a Healthy SF Enrollee, or a DPH Youth Clinic or Community Health Network Client, stop by a participating clinic near you

CONTEST ALERT – From our friends at ISIS, Inc.!

We all do little things to keep ourselves healthy.  Some of us walk to school or work instead of driving.  Sometimes we turn off the TV and head outside.  Some of us even take multivitamins with folic acid!

What creative things are you doing in your life to make yourself healthy?  Our friends at ISIS, Inc. want to hear all about it!

Today is for Tomorrow is a preconception health campaign for young women (ages 16-24) in California. Preconception years are the years where you could get pregnant, choose to get pregnant, or are in between pregnancies. Not planning to get pregnant anytime soon? That is okay, staying healthy starts way before ever deciding to have a baby, and most of the small changes you can make today can make a big impact on your tomorrow.

If you’re a young woman between the ages of 16 and 24, you’re eligible to enter ISIS, Inc.’s Today is For Tomorrow contest.  Let ISIS, Inc. know – in 140 characters or less – what things you do to keep yourself healthy.  You’ll have a chance to win a $2,000 scholarship, Nintendo Wii, or other great prizes.

Contest ends July 10th (24th!*), so hurry to http://www.todayisfortomorrow.org to submit your entry!

*Contest deadline has been extended until July 24th!

PSA – Before You Know!

Happy Women’s Week Wednesday! In celebration of women’s health, we’ve released our new public service announcement on YouTube. “Before You Know” focuses on how folic acid can prepare women now for better birth outcomes later on in life.

Taking folic acid everyday 3-12 months before pregnancy can lower the risk spina bifida, anencephaly and other neural birth defects by 70% (1) . It may also lower the chance of pre-term labor and low infant birth weights. So remember to check those vitamins for 400mcg of folic acid B9! To see if you’re getting 400 mcg from your food, there’s a cool App available  for iPhone from vitatrack that will help calculate your intake.

Check out the video:

Click the here to view the Chinese Version

Clinician’s Corner – Should You Use the New Birth Control Pill?

Should You Use the New Birth Control Pill?

Have you heard about Beyaz?
This is a newly approved birth control pill that is basically like the Yasmin (Yaz) pills. The only difference between them is that the Beyaz birth control pill has a form of folic acid in it. This means that for as long as a woman takes Beyaz correctly, she is getting over 400 mcg of this very important B vitamin every day. For more information about Beyaz, go to http://www.beyaz.com/.

What should you remember about folate and folic acid?
• Folate is a type of B vitamin found naturally in many foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that you get when you take a vitamin supplement.
• Many teenagers and adult women don’t get enough of this vitamin which is very important for their health.
• Ideally, folic acid supplementation should be taken three months before you get pregnant and during the first 3 months of pregnancy or longer to help reduce the chances your baby will be born with problems of the spine and brain.
• If you take folic acid supplementation for a year or longer before pregnancy, it may help decrease the chances your baby will be born too early or perhaps with other serious health problems.
• The vitamin doesn’t last long in your body. If you become pregnant soon after you stop taking it, your health and the health of the pregnancy will not be getting the benefits of the vitamin. For more information about folic acid, go to http://www.gofolic.org/facts/index.html.

Why does Beyaz have folic acid in it?
Since so many women don’t get enough of the vitamin for their general health and don’t take a separate multivitamin every day, the folic acid in the pill may help women’s health in general. Also, some women get pregnant when they are on the pill, mainly because of not taking it correctly. If this were to happen, the pregnancy would also get the benefits of the vitamin.

What if you were to get pregnant while taking Beyaz?
You should stop the pill and begin taking a multivitamin with at least 600 mcg of folic acid. Sometimes, a woman’s doctor will advise her to take up to 1000 mcg of folic acid during her pregnancy. This depends on the woman’s health and if she had any problems with past pregnancies.

If you like the hormonal birth control method you are using now, should you change to Beyaz?
There is no reason to change your method if you feel good on the hormones you are taking. You may not feel as good on Beyaz. All women are different.

What is important is to continue to use your hormonal method correctly and take a multivitamin every day. You should also do this even if you are not using a hormonal method. You need folic acid and all the rest of the vitamins that are included in a multivitamin for your health. And if you should want a baby someday, remember, it is important to begin taking the vitamins before you become pregnant!


Barbara Kass-Annese, RNCNP, MSN, is a clinician who has written extensively on the topic of vitamins and women’s health.  She also serves as a medical consultant to the Go Folic! Women’s Nutrition Project.

Let’s talk about Sex(Tech), baby! A note from the field…

We're Blogging About Sex Tech!Friday and Saturday of last week, the Go Folic! team tabled at SexTech2011.  While the title of is a little racy, in the words of the organizers, SexTech “brings health and technology professionals together with youth, parents and community leaders to advance the sexual health of youth in the U.S. and abroad.”  It is “the event” for learning how organizations are using high tech media to educate and involve youth in sexual health issues and prevention.    

Go Folic! was there to encourage other organizations to use our approach to educating women about folic acid.  We talked to lots of folks and handed out CDs with our materials to 82 people, from organizations as close as the A&PI Wellness Center in San Francisco, and as far away as the National Association of County and City Health Officials in Washington, DC. 

Mei Lin talking to a SexTech staff member at the conference

While there, we also took advantage of the great workshops that SexTech offered, including:

We also learned about Bedsider.org, a great new resource on birth control that will send you text messages to help you remember to take your pill, and talked to the folks from IdentiGene, which offers STI test kits that you can buy at your local pharmacy.

All in all, it was a great conference, and we appreciated the chance to be a part of it.