One way to support prenatal health is to eat enriched grain foods. They can supply folic acid for a lowered risk of some birth defects.
Two times more folic acid is found in enriched grains compared with whole grains
Starting in the 1960’s, scientists started studying the link between folic acid-rich foods and lowered risk of neural tube defects (NTDs). In 1998, this research led to FDA-mandated fortification of enriched grain foods with folic acid to help reduce NTDs. After the study, the effects were immediate. After just five years, the prevalence of NTDs has been reduced by 36%.
NTDs form during the first three weeks of pregnancy, but folic acid enriched grains help prevent them from the time of conception. Expectant mothers, even those who don’t know it yet, can help protect their babies by simply eating the foods they love.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, women’s consumption of enriched grain foods, not prenatal supplements is responsible for this significant decline. And fortification was recognized as one of the top ten public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.