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New Folic Acid Seal Helps Women Choose Enriched Grain Foods To Help Prevent Birth Defects

Date:
January 15, 2008
Source:
March of Dimes Foundation
Summary:
To promote consumption of folic acid among childbearing age women, the March of Dimes and Grain Foods Foundation have created a Folic Acid for a Healthy Pregnancy seal that will be featured on select products to help identify grain products, such as white bread, that are folic acid enriched. 2008 marks the tenth anniversary of folic acid fortification to enriched flour. Since the 1998 FDA mandate, neural tube defects have declined 26 percent.

The seal 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.
Credit: March of Dimes

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.

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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 don't 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-rich foods every day."

"The Folic Acid for a Healthy Pregnancy seal will make is easier for women to choose foods that are healthy for them and their babies," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "Folic acid is the most important vitamin women can take to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, and it's most important that they start taking it before they get pregnant and continue to take it after."

According to the SRBI survey, two-thirds of women believe that whole wheat and multi-grain breads contain the most folic acid. Only 12 percent of women perceive enriched white bread as having high levels of folic acid, despite the fact that it actually has twice as much folic acid as whole grain or whole wheat bread.

"These survey results demonstrate the need for women to better understand how to get specific nutrients through their diet," noted Judi Adams, MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation. "Enriched grains are an easy, inexpensive and delicious way for women to get essential vitamins such as folic acid."

The March of Dimes urges all women of childbearing age to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. Bread, crackers, bagels, pasta, pretzels and tortillas made from fortified, enriched white flour are popular and important sources of folic acid.

Survey Methodologies

Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas, Inc. (SRBI) fielded the study on behalf of Grain Foods Foundation from October 17-22, 2007, using SRBI's national in-house telephone center. A total of 602 interviews were conducted with women between the ages of 18-54 (300 Hispanic, 302 non-Hispanic). A sample this size yields a 95% confidence level with a margin of error +/- 4.1%. When using the sub-quotas of 300, the data has a 95% confidence level with a range of error of +/- 5.5%.

The March of Dimes survey was conducted by The Gallup Organization with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2007 results are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 2,003 women age 18 to 45 conducted from May 17 to June 26, 2007. The sampling design included an over sampling of women ages 18-24. For results based on this sample size, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus two percentage points, with greater potential error for subset comparisons.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by March of Dimes Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

March of Dimes Foundation. "New Folic Acid Seal Helps Women Choose Enriched Grain Foods To Help Prevent Birth Defects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111100627.htm>.
March of Dimes Foundation. (2008, January 15). New Folic Acid Seal Helps Women Choose Enriched Grain Foods To Help Prevent Birth Defects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111100627.htm
March of Dimes Foundation. "New Folic Acid Seal Helps Women Choose Enriched Grain Foods To Help Prevent Birth Defects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111100627.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

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