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There are 3,000 pregnancies affected by spina bifida or anencephaly, which are neural tube defects (NTDs) caused by the incomplete closing of the spine and skull.
Many, but not all, neural tube defects could be prevented if women took 400 mcg of folic acid daily, before and during early pregnancy. Have lower blood folate levels and are less likely to consume foods fortified with folic acid. Are less likely to have heard about folic acid, to know it can prevent birth defects, or take vitamins containing folic acid before pregnancy. Women aged 18-24 years were more likely to hear about folic acid from a magazine or newspaper (25%) or school or college (22%) than from their health care provider (17%).

In addition, 11% cited no specific need that would motivate them to begin taking a vitamin or supplement.
The annual medical care and surgical costs for people with spina bifida exceed $200 million. CDCa€™s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has published a new study looking at folic acid use before pregnancy in women who have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect (NTD).
Recently, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published a CDC study: a€?Lack of Periconceptional Vitamins or Supplements That Contain Folic Acid and Diabetes Mellitus-Associated Birth Defectsa€?. Every woman needs to get enough folic acid each day, even if she does not plan to become pregnant.

Whereas 37% of women aged 25-34 years and 36% of women 35-45 years reported hearing about folic acid from their health care provider. Among women who reported not consuming a vitamin or mineral supplement daily, 31% indicated they had received a doctor's recommendation. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and while she is pregnant, her baby is less likely to have a major birth defect of the brain or spine.

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