Occurence Of Birth Defect In Tennessee

State of Tennessee, Mar 30, 2007

Women of childbearing age in particular should take folic acid to help prevent birth defects, especially neural tube defects (NTD), serious birth defects of the brain and spine that occur when the neural tube, which later develops into the central nervous system, fails to close. Spina bifida, the leading cause of childhood paralysis, and anencephaly, the absence of a part of the brain or skull, are the most common forms of NTDs, affecting over 100 babies born to Tennessee residents from 2000 to 2002. These and other NTDs can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths and infant death. Research has shown that if women consume adequate amounts of folic acid on a regular basis, up to 70 percent of NTDs can be prevented.

Folic acid is required for early fetal development. To prevent NTDs, it is important for a woman to have enough folic acid in her body both before and during pregnancy. NTDs occur during the first month of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it is important for all women of childbearing age to make taking folic acid part of their daily routine.

The Tennessee Department of Health, in partnership with the Tennessee Folic Acid Council, is joining the National Council on Folic Acid (NCFA) to observe National Folic Acid Awareness Week, January 9-15, in hopes of increasing knowledge of the importance of folic acid consumption.

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