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New folic acid seal helps women choose enriched grain foods to help prevent birth defects
Date:1/11/2008

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JAN. 9, 2008 Not enough American women understand that consuming the B vitamin folic acid every day can help prevent serious birth defects, and only 40 percent are taking daily multivitamin supplements containing this essential nutrient beginning before pregnancy, two recent surveys show.

Daily consumption of folic acid beginning before pregnancy is crucial because 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.

In an effort to promote increased consumption of folic acid among women of childbearing age, the March of Dimes and the Grain Foods Foundation have created a new Folic Acid for a Healthy Pregnancy seal that will be featured on select products at retail to help women quickly and easily identify grain products, such as white bread, that are enriched with folic acid.

2008 marks the ten-year anniversary of folic acid fortification to enriched flour. Since the FDA issued the mandate in 1998, neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina bifida, have declined by 26 percent.

However, according to the most recent March of Dimes/Gallup survey only 12 percent of women ages 18-45 know that folic acid should be consumed prior to pregnancy. In addition, the number of women taking multivitamin supplements containing folic acid beginning before pregnancy was only about 40 percent in 2007.

Unfortunately, most women dont realize they should have sufficient levels of folic acid in their bodies long before they consider having a baby, explained Judith Reichman, M.D., a gynecologist and one of the nation's leading medical voices on women's health issues. Given the number of unplanned pregnancies, if women are sexually active, it is critical that they pay attention to their diet, take a daily multivitamin containing folic acid and consume folic acid-r
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Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
elynch@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4286
March of Dimes Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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