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Salma Hayek Kicks Off March of Dimes Folic Acid Education Campaign

Actress Is Featured in Dramatic Public Service Ad

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Feature film actress Salma Hayek is kicking off the latest phase of the March of Dimes $10 million, multi-year folic acid education campaign -- by volunteering to be the first celebrity featured in a national public service ad campaign that has debuted in Elle and Harper's Bazaar.

In an attention-getting print ad, shot by leading photographer Mark Seliger, Hayek appears above headline copy that announces "Salma Hayek is not pregnant.''

The ad is the centerpiece of the largest and most ambitious birth defects prevention effort yet undertaken by the March of Dimes. The campaign's goal is to persuade more women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of the B vitamin folic acid every day -- whether they are pregnant or not.

"Daily pre-conception use of folic acid can prevent up to 70 percent of birth defects of the brain and spine, known as neural tube defects (NTDs),'' said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "It is important to realize that not having enough folic acid before conception and in the early weeks of pregnancy -- when many women are not yet aware they are pregnant -- can lead to neural tube defects.''

"Salma is a strong, confident woman who understands the importance of taking care of herself,'' Dr. Howse said. "We're delighted she has joined our campaign to teach women that you can help save your baby from being born with a disabling or fatal birth defect by taking a multivitamin every day, as part of a healthy diet.''

"I think it's important for women to take responsibility not only for the health of their children, but for their own health,'' Hayek said.

"Folic acid must be taken before conception and during the early weeks of pregnancy to be effective in preventing NTDs,'' said Mary Giammarino, March of Dimes national director of mission marketing, "and since nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, every woman who could get pregnant should be consuming folic acid daily.''

Giammarino worked with The Lord Group, a joint venture between Young & Rubicam and Dentsu, to develop the print campaign. Seliger waived his fee, donating his time to support the campaign.

NTDs are among the most serious and common birth defects in the United States. They include spina bifida, a leading cause of childhood paralysis, and anencephaly (missing or incomplete brain and skull). Hispanic women are at high risk for having infants with NTDs, with a rate roughly 45 to 50 percent higher than that of non-Hispanic white women.

"In addition to Salma's impact as a positive role model for young women, she is helping us to reach the Latina community. Folic acid education is extremely important for this high risk group,'' said Ms. Giammarino. The ads are available in both English and Spanish.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies. More information is available on the March of Dimes Website at

For a copy of the PSA, please contact the March of Dimes.