DENVER, Jan. 9 /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. About 3,000 pregnancies are affected by
neural tube defects each year. 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 woman 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
non-Hispanic whites. Yet Hispanic women are significantly more likely than
non-Hispanic white 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 food groups -- and exercise."
In addition to Birth Defects Prevention Month, January marks Folic Acid
Awareness week (January 8-14, 2007). Both initiatives share a common goal
of increasing awareness for the importance of folic acid consumption as
part of a healthy diet.
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 www.grainpower.org.
SOURCE Grain Foods Foundation