Not enough American women understand that consuming the B vitamin folic acid every day can help prevent serious birth defects and that they should take it before they become pregnant. Not enough American women understand that consuming the B vitamin folic acid every day can help prevent serious birth defects and that they should take it before they become pregnant.
The most recent March of Dimes survey revealed that only 28 percent of women of childbearing age knew folic acid can prevent birth defects and only 11 said they knew that folic acid should be consumed prior to pregnancy.
This January, as part of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Grain Foods Foundation has joined with the March of Dimes to remind all women of child-bearing age of the important role folic acid plays in preventing birth defects. Daily consumption of the B vitamin folic acid beginning before pregnancy is crucial as birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, can occur in the early weeks following conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.
“Folic acid is the most important vitamin women can take to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, and it’s most important that they start taking it before they get pregnant and continue to take it after,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.
The March of Dimes urges all women of childbearing age to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. Bread, crackers, bagels, pasta, pretzels and tortillas made from fortified, enriched white flour are popular and important sources of folic acid. In fact, enriched grain products have been fortified with twice the amount of folic acid found in whole grain products.
“Enriched grains are an easy, inexpensive and delicious way for women to get essential vitamins such as folic acid,” noted Judi Adams, MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation.
About Grain Foods Foundation
The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied industries formed in 2004, is dedicated to advancing the public’s understanding of the beneficial role grain-based foods play in the human diet. Directed by a board of trustees, funding for the Foundation is provided through voluntary donations from private grain-based food companies and is supplemented by industry associations. For more information about the Grain Foods Foundation, visit gowiththegrain.org, or find GoWithTheGrain on Facebook and Twitter.