RICHARDSON, Texas — With a shared goal to improve outcomes for mothers and babies statewide, Vitamin Angels will join Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas’ evolved Special Beginnings® maternal and infant health initiative to put at least 10,000 six-month supplies of prenatal vitamins and minerals in the hands of family planning, pregnant and postpartum Texas women.
BCBSTX will provide Vitamin Angels with a $300,000 grant and the two organizations will work in tandem — across BCBSTX initiative’s initial target regions of Austin/Central Texas, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Rio Grande Valley — to enable eligible providers, clinics and community organizations to distribute no-cost vitamins and minerals to their clients and patients.
“Seventy-four percent of women seeking pregnancy health advice start with a health care provider — and nearly half seek that advice online. These avenues are the most important opportunities to stress the importance of prenatal care for newly pregnant women or those considering pregnancy,” said Dr. Mark Chassay, BCBSTX vice president and chief medical officer. “We want to reduce barriers for women to receive the necessary nutrients and begin moving the needle on maternal and infant outcomes.”
Vitamin Angels is a global public health nonprofit working to improve maternal and child nutrition. The organization states more than 1 million pregnant women in the United States don’t have access to essential nutrients they need to help support a healthy pregnancy, which drives their mission to reduce barriers that impact health and economic wellbeing across communities and generations.
“We believe in a world where every mother has a healthy pregnancy and every child gets a chance at a healthy life. This year, we will reach more than 71 million pregnant women and children with essential vitamins and minerals by working in partnership with over 1,200 local organizations in every state in the United States and about 65 countries around the world,” said Howard Schiffer, Vitamin Angels founder and president. “We are thrilled to collaborate with BCBSTX so, together, we can reach even more pregnant women in Texas with the prenatal vitamins and minerals they need.”
A study commissioned by the March of Dimes reported women who take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before pregnancy and during the early months of pregnancy can prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, known as neural tube defects.
NTDs, according to the MOD report, happen in the first month of pregnancy — often before a woman knows she is pregnant. Around 7 in 10 of the 3,000 NTDs that occur each year in the United States could be prevented if women, during preconception and pregnancy, took daily multivitamins containing folic acid.
The Vitamin Angels grant builds on BCBSTX’s long-standing maternal and infant care programs, as well as relationships with trusted local community organizations, health care providers and thought leaders, to leverage their knowledge, experience and talents to increase access to care, reduce care gaps and educate and engage Texans at a local level.
BCBSTX’s statewide evolved Special Beginnings initiative aims to improve health outcomes for Texas moms and babies following data that showed 9 out of 10 maternal deaths in Texas were preventable. Other recently announced collaborations include:
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) — the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas — is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with more than 140,000 physicians and health care practitioners, and 520 hospitals to serve more than 7 million members in all 254 counties. BCBSTX is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) (which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico). Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Vitamin Angels
Founded in 1994, Vitamin Angels is a public health nonprofit working to improve nutrition and health outcomes in low-resource settings worldwide. We strengthen, extend, and amplify the impact of our partner organizations working to reach the most nutritionally vulnerable groups – pregnant women, infants, and young children – who are underserved by existing systems. We do this by delivering evidence-based interventions and offering technical assistance, including ongoing monitoring and evaluation, to ensure program quality, scale, and impact. Vitamin Angels works with over 1,200 local organizations, including governments, to reach more than 71 million women and children in about 65 countries annually. Both Charity Navigator and Candid give Vitamin Angels their highest marks for financial transparency.