Folic Acid in the Prevention of Birth Defects | Public Health Grand Rounds | CDC

Every year, approximately 300,000 children around the world are born with neural tube defects (NTD), a failure of closure of the neural tube either in the cranial region or along the spine that result in anencephaly and spina bifida respectively. Infants born with anencephaly usually die within a few days of birth, and those with spina bifida typically live with various life-long disabilities and often experience mobility limitations.

Twenty years of rigorous research shows that adequate consumption of folic acid before and during the first trimester of pregnancy can prevent up to 50% – 70% of NTDs. As a result, in 1996 the FDA mandated that all food products made from enriched cereal grain flours be fortified with folic acid. Although the number of NTDs in the United States have been reduced by more than 30% since this mandate, there are still populations in this country and worldwide that can benefit from these safe and effective fortification programs.

This session of Public Health Grand Rounds focused on current efforts to further decrease the prevalence of NTDs in the United States, as well as discussed much needed global strategies to reduce the burden of NTDs worldwide through mandatory fortification of staple foods with folic acid.

Source: Folic Acid in the Prevention of Birth Defects | Public Health Grand Rounds | CDC

World Breastfeeding Week

August 1-7 is observed as World Breastfeeding Week. Since the first World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated in 1992, 170 countries have recognize the first week of August as a time for education and encouragement for pregnant and breastfeeding moms, as well as the general public.

According to the World Health Organization:

Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.

Read 10 facts about breastfeeding

WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommend breastfeeding up to six months of age and supplemental breastfeeding along with complementary foods up to two years of age.

Breastfeeding isn’t just the primary source of a baby’s nutrition and sustenance but baby’s “first and best vaccine” against any illness or disease.

“Early breastfeeding can make the difference between life and death,” France Bégin, Senior Nutrition Adviser, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement. Adding, “If all babies are fed nothing but breast milk from the moment they are born until they are six months old, over 800,000 lives would be saved every year,”

One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant is to breastfeed, immediately. Research suggests that delaying breastfeeding by 2-23 hours post-birth increases infant mortality by 40 percent. Delaying breastfeeding by 24 hours or more increases the risk by 80 percent!

This August, take the time to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding. Make sure you share how important those first moments of skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby are for baby’s overall health and wellness.

Check out these resources and infographics to share:

WHO

World Breastfeeding Week

USDA