In the 17 years since US enriched cereal grain products have been fortified with folic acid, approximately 1300 babies each year are spared neural tube defects (NTDs). Yet despite this effective measure to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly, nearly a quarter of US women of childbearing age do not have high enough folate concentrations to reduce the risk of NTDs.
Researchers examined data from 19 population-based birth defect surveillance programs from 1999 to 2011 to estimate the prevalence of NTDs since folic acid fortification began. The number of NTD-affected births prevented has remained stable since the initial reduction observed in 1999 to 2000, after folic acid was added to grain products (Williams J et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64:1-5).
Higher Folic Acid Intake Needed. JAMA. 2015;313(11):1094. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.1369