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Campaign Touts Folic Acid for Moms-to-Be

The B vitamin can prevent birth defects, experts say

FRIDAY, Jan. 28, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A new public education campaign to raise awareness about the important role that the B vitamin folic acid plays in preventing serious birth defects was announced this week by the March of Dimes and the Grain Foods Foundation.

The campaign will include pregnancy workshops at hospitals and community clinics in New York City and Washington, D.C., nurse-training programs, and support for March of Dimes Stork's Nest programming. The announcement comes during National Folic Acid Awareness Week, Jan. 23 to 29.

In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated folic acid fortification of enriched grains. Since then, there's been a 26 percent decline in serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.

Folic acid is present naturally in whole-grain products, but products made with enriched grains contain twice as much folic acid.

"The common sense messages in this program will enhance and extend our own efforts to educate women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin containing folic acid every day and choose foods high in folic acid -- like enriched breads and other grain products -- as part of a healthy diet," Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, March of Dimes president, said in a prepared statement.

"Even if you're not thinking of having a baby right now, consuming folic acid can help give your future baby a healthy start in life," Howse said.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about folic acid.

SOURCE: March of Dimes, Grain Foods Foundation, news release, Jan. 26, 2005
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