DENVER, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- January is Birth Defects Prevention Month
-- and the Grain Foods Foundation is partnering with the March of Dimes to
remind women about the important role that enriched grains play in helping to
prevent birth defects. Of the four million women who give birth in the US
each year, some 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects. Yet some
birth defects may be prevented by incorporating folic acid rich foods, like
enriched grains, into one's diet before getting pregnant. Folic acid is
needed for spinal cord development in the first three to four weeks of a
pregnancy, often before a women even knows she is pregnant. Foods made from
enriched white flour -- especially bread -- contain important B vitamins
(niacin, thiamin and riboflavin) and folic acid, which are essential in
helping reduce the risk of a baby born with a birth defect.
"One of our primary goals is to educate consumers about the important
nutrition benefits of bread and grains," said Judi Adams, MS, RD, president of
the Grain Foods Foundation. "In particular, it is important for women in
particular to understand that enriched grains are a primary source of folic
acid, which is critical during their child-bearing years."
"We are working together with the Grain Foods Foundation to increase
awareness of the importance of folic acid in a woman's diet to reduce the risk
of babies born with neural tube defects," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse,
President of the March of Dimes. "Folic acid is needed for spinal cord
development in the first three to four weeks of pregnancy, often before women
even know they are pregnant. That is why it is important that all women of
child-bearing age take a daily multi-vitamin containing folic acid and have
sufficient amounts of folic acid in their diets."
Between 1995 and 2002 neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina bifida,
have declined by 36 percent in Hispanics and 34 percent in white, non-
Hispanics. Yet Hispanic women are 50% more likely than white, non-Hispanic
women to have a child born with these serious birth defects of the brain and
spine. Folic acid fortification of enriched grains was mandated in the United
States in 1998 and since then products -- like bread, crackers, bagels, pasta
and tortillas -- made from enriched white flour have been important for
growing fetal development. In fact, enriched grains have been fortified with
twice the amount of folic acid found in whole grain products.
"Most women know that they should eat a healthy diet during pregnancy, but
diet is equally important pre-pregnancy," explained Bruce Young, MD, Ob/Gyn
and member of the Grain Foods Foundation clinical advisory board. "A woman's
diet and lifestyle throughout her child-bearing years have a significant
impact on her unborn child. I recommend to my patients of child-bearing age
that they follow a sensible diet -- which incorporates foods from all foods
groups -- and exercise."
In addition to Birth Defects Prevention Month, January marks Folic Acid
Awareness week (January 9-15, 2006). Both initiatives share a common goal of
increasing awareness for the importance of folic acid consumption as part of a
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is
to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth
and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of
research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in
2003 launched a new campaign to address the increasing rate of premature
birth. Visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish
Web site at nacersano.org.
About the Grain Foods Foundation
The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling and
baking 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 http://www.grainpower.org.
Kristin Patterson, Mullen
Michelle Marinelli, Mullen
SOURCE Grain Foods Foundation