Hispanic Babies at Greater Risk for Severe Birth Defects

Hispanic Babies at Greater Risk for Severe Birth Defects

National Folic Acid Awareness Week Emphasizes Education


Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–January 8, 2007–Hispanic babies are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with a neural tube defect (NTD), according to national statistics. The National Council on Folic Acid (NCFA) will recognize National Folic Acid Awareness Week, January 8 – 14, 2007, with a concentrated effort to inform Latinas about how to minimize these conditions, including increasing their folic acid consumption.

Statistics show that in the U.S., there is a higher prevalence of Latinas delivering babies with NTDs, serious birth defects of the brain and the spine, than non-Hispanic white women. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Latinas consume the least amount of folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid than other racial or ethnic groups.

“Helping Latinas and their families understand the role folic acid can serve in reducing neural tube defects is a priority,” says Adriane K. Griffen, NCFA chair. “We need to educate all women, especially Latinas, that folic acid can help prevent birth defects such as Spina Bifida, the most common and permanently disabling birth defect.”

Research indicates that consumption of folic acid before and during early pregnancy can lower the rate of NTDs by up to 70 percent. The U.S. Public Health Service recommends 400 micrograms of B vitamin folic acid daily for women of childbearing age. Women are recommended to take multivitamins and consume fortified grains as part of a healthy diet. Increasing consumption of folic acid among Latinas may be the easiest way to decrease pregnancies affected by NTDs.

Studies show that Latinas have the lowest reported folic acid consumption of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., and NTDs occur more often among Latinas. According to Alina Flores, Health Education Specialist at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, “Informing Latinas about the benefits of folic acid is a valuable effort that needs to extend beyond National Folic Acid Awareness Week. With additional research and public support we can have a profound impact on countless Latino families.”

The National Council on Folic Acid is a partnership of national organizations, associations and state folic acid councils reaching over 100 million people a year with the folic acid message. For more information about folic acid and National Folic Acid Awareness Week, visit http://www.folicacidinfo.org.

Hispanic Babies at Greater Risk for Severe Birth Defects