25 January 2010

Women need 400 micrograms of vitamin folic acid every day to protect against birth defects

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and organizations like the March of Dimes and the Grain Foods Foundation are working to raise awareness of the importance of folic acid for healthy birth outcomes. The March of Dimes reports that only 28 percent of women knew that consuming folic acid helps to protect against birth defects; only 11 percent of women knew that folic acid should be taken before becoming pregnant. Serious birth defects that affect the brain and spine, like spina bifida, begin mere weeks after conception. Something as simple as eating enriched grains can prevent these neural tube defects.

For every 1,000 live births, 276.3 infants will be born with birth defects in the state of Tennessee. Birth defects were responsible for 1 in 5 infant deaths in Tennessee in 2004. Memphis already leads the nation in infant mortality, making it imperative that we emphasize proper prenatal care. Women should eat at least 400 micrograms of the B vitamin folic acid every day. This can be found in an assortment of grain products like breads, bagels, pretzels, and pastas. When compared to whole grain items, products made with enriched white flour contain twice as much folic acid.

In the United States, one out of every 33 babies born will have a birth defect, which could inhibit their physical and mental development as they grow into young children. In 2004, the costs for treating birth defects amounted to $2.6 billion. This figure includes hospital costs but does not take into consideration the expenses of treating behavioral and cognitive delays caused by defects. On January 18th, Schnucks pharmacies announced that they will provide free prenatal vitamins to women who can present a valid prescription. Help the March of Dimes and the Grain Foods Foundation by spreading the message.

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