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GNC Partners With March of Dimes for Me & My Baby Folic Acid Awareness Program

PITTSBURGH, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- GNC announced its partnership with the March of Dimes(R) for a folic acid awareness program called Me & My Baby. The program is designed to help the March of Dimes meet its goals for raising awareness among women in their childbearing years about the benefits of taking folic acid prior to and during early pregnancy. Former Melrose Place star Josie Bissett will serve as the program's spokesperson.

Folic acid plays an important role during rapid fetal growth and development. Adequate intake of folic acid before and in the earliest weeks of pregnancy may reduce the risk of having a baby with a brain or spinal cord birth defect. The recommended dose of folic acid is 400 mcg every day beginning at least one month before conception. Because 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned, experts recommend that all women of childbearing age take folic acid.

Through Me & My Baby, GNC is aimed at helping the March of Dimes reach two goals in its Folic Acid Campaign: increasing the percentage of women of childbearing age who recognize that folic acid helps prevent neural tube birth defects; and increasing the percentage of women of childbearing age who know they should begin taking folic acid before pregnancy.

Another component of the program is the Me & My Baby Photo Quilt, which will display baby photos sent in from mothers across the country, symbolizing the importance of folic acid in giving all babies a healthy start.* In addition, GNC has developed the Me & My Baby Pledge, a commitment by women of childbearing age not only to take folic acid, but also to share information about folic acid with other women.

GNC will also conduct two in-store programs to benefit the March of Dimes. Through May 31, GNC stores will offer $1.00 Me & My Baby cut-outs to remind women to take folic acid every day. A second program is planned for Healthy Baby Month in October.

In addition to helping the March of Dimes reach its Folic Acid Campaign goals, GNC proudly supports March of Dimes WalkAmerica(R) fundraising events across the country. As a multi-market partner of March of Dimes WalkAmerica, GNC will provide free 100-count bottles of folic acid, as well as educational information on folic acid and money-saving coupons, to WalkAmerica participants.

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 its web site at or its Spanish web site at

General Nutrition Companies, Inc. (GNC), based in Pittsburgh, PA, is the largest nationwide specialty retailer of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, sports nutrition as well as personal care and related products.

GNC operates more than 5,300 retail outlets throughout the United States, including 1,360 domestic franchise locations, and 26 foreign markets including Canada and Mexico. GNC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Numico N.V., a worldwide market leader in specialized nutrition that includes infant and clinical nutrition and nutritional supplements.

* The first 10,000 people to send photos for the quilt will receive a money-saving coupon redeemable at participating GNC locations. Photographs can be color or black and white, must be 3 x 5 inches in size or smaller and should be of a baby less than 2 years of age. Photographs will not be returned. Send to Me & My Baby Photo Quilt, P.O. Box 506, Warrendale, PA 15086. Photographs will be accepted through August 31, 2002.

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