DENVER, Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- According to recent March of Dimes
statistics, women of child-bearing age are missing a healthy dose of folic
acid in their diets and the Grain Foods Foundation, with the help of Susie
Castillo, is reminding women of the important role the vitamin plays in
preventing birth defects during January's Birth Defects Prevention Month.
Folic acid is needed for spinal cord development in the first three weeks
of a pregnancy; often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
"Since the majority of pregnancies are unplanned, it's important that
young women pay attention to their eating habits now and follow a well-
balanced diet that is rich in folic acid," said Castillo. "In particular,
because Hispanic women are more likely to have a child born with a neural
tube defect, it is necessary that they understand the importance of eating
folic acid-rich foods like enriched grains to dramatically improve their
chances of having a healthy baby some day."
Of the four million women who give birth in the United States each
year, some 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects. Yet many women
don't know that some birth defects can be prevented by incorporating folic
acid into their diet before getting pregnant. When asked about folic acid,
and specifically its role in promoting healthy babies, 26% of non-Hispanic
women did not know that folic acid helps to prevent birth defects. And, 36%
of Hispanic women (who as a group are significantly more likely to have a
child born with neural tube defects) did not associate folic acid with
birth defects prevention.
"Most women know they should eat a healthy diet during pregnancy, but
diet is equally important pre-pregnancy," explained Bruce Young, MD,
Silverman Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU School of Medicine,
Director of the NYU Fetal Therapy Program, 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. Women should have an ample supply of folic acid before conception. I
recommend to my patients of child-bearing age that they follow a sensible
diet -- which incorporates foods from all foods groups -- and exercise."
It is recommended that all women of child-bearing age consume 400
micrograms of folic acid daily. Foods made from enriched white flour
contain important B vitamins (niacin, thiamin and riboflavin) and folic
acid, which are essential in preventing birth defects. Products -- like
bread, crackers, bagels, pasta and tortillas -- made from enriched white
flour are important for growing fetuses. In fact, enriched grains have been
fortified with twice the amount of folic acid found in whole grain
Since 1998 when folic acid fortification of enriched grains was
mandated in the United States, neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina
bifida, have declined by 36 percent in Hispanics and 34 percent in white,
In addition to Birth Defects Prevention Month, January marks Folic Acid
Awareness Week (January 8-12, 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 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