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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2005 Sep 30;54(38):955-8.

Use of dietary supplements containing folic acid among women of childbearing age--United States, 2005.


Neural tube defects (NTDs) are serious birth defects of the spine (spina bifida) and brain (anencephaly), affecting approximately 3,000 pregnancies each year in the United States. Daily periconceptional consumption of 400 mug of folic acid, as recommended by the Public Health Service (PHS) since 1992, reduces the occurrence of NTDs by 50%-70%. The Food and Drug Administration ordered mandatory fortification with folic acid of U.S. cereal grain products, beginning in 1998. However, despite a 26% reduction in NTDs, not all women of childbearing age receive adequate levels of folic acid from their diets. Therefore, increasing the number of women who take dietary supplements containing 400 mug of folic acid daily remains an important component of NTD prevention. This report summarizes results from the 2005 March of Dimes Gallup survey, which determined a decrease in the proportion of childbearing-aged women who reported taking folic acid in dietary supplements daily, from 40% in 2004 to 33% in 2005, returning to a level consistent with that reported during 1995-2003. These results emphasize the need for innovative programs to increase folic acid consumption to further reduce NTDs.

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