January 9, 2012 – Ridgway, CO – This January, as part of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Grain Foods Foundation has partnered with the Spina Bifida Association to remind all women of childbearing age of the important role folic acid plays in preventing neural tube birth defects. Daily consumption of the B vitamin folic acid, beginning before pregnancy, is crucial since birth defects of the brain and spine, such as spina bifida, can occur in the early weeks following conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.
Of the four million women who give birth in the United States each year, some 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects, translating to approximately eight babies born in the United States every day with spina bifida or similar neural tube defect.
“Enriched grains, such as white bread, flour tortillas, cereal and pasta, are one of the easiest and least expensive sources of folic acid,” said Judi Adams MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation. “Not to mention, they are the number one source of folic acid in the diets of most Americans.”
In fact, since the Food and Drug Administration mandated fortification of enriched grains in 1998, the number of babies born in the United States with neural tube birth defects has declined by 36 percent among non-Hispanic women and Hispanics alike. Hispanic women are twice as likely as the rest of the population to have a baby born with a neural tube defect. In fact, in recognition of this accomplishment, the Center for Disease Control recently named folic acid fortification of enriched grains as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the last decade.
To help raise awareness of the important role enriched grains play in preventing neural tube defects, the Grain Foods Foundation has developed an online course on folic acid through the Spina Bifida Association (SBA)’s SB University, a self-paced online educational experience, which covers a wide variety of topics of importance to health professionals and members of the Spina Bifida community. The course, “Food & Folic Acid: What Every Woman Should Know,” will launch at the start of Folic Acid Awareness Week (January 8 – 14) and will be available for free viewing at www.sbuniversity.org.
“SB University has proven to be a great resource for health professionals and the entire Spina Bifida community,” said Cindy Brownstein, SBA’s CEO. “The Grain Foods Foundation video is certainly a welcome and informative addition to our online education offerings through SBU. SBA is pleased to partner with the Grains Foods Foundation to support women of childbearing age in making healthy food choices to increase their folic acid intake.”
About the Grain Foods Foundation
The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied 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-related companies and is supplemented by industry associations. For more information about the Grain Foods Foundation, visit gowiththegrain.org, or find GoWithTheGrain on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
About Spina Bifida Association
The mission of the Spina Bifida Association® (SBA) is to promote the prevention of Spina Bifida and to enhance the lives of all affected. The Association was formed in 1973 and has a presence in more than 125 communities. SBA has acted as the nation’s sole voluntary health agency working to improve the lives of those with Spina Bifida. Its tools are education, advocacy, research, and service. For more information, visit www.spinabifidaassociation.org.