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Bridging The Folic Acid Gap: American Women Aren't Making Folic Acid Part Of Their Healthy Baby Plans

New Survey Findings Prompt Grain Foods Foundation and Spina Bifida Association to Focus on Folic Acid Awareness this January

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- All women are at risk for having a pregnancy affected by a birth defect, and approximately eight babies are born each day with one of the most common birth defects, neural tube defects.1 There are preventative measures — in fact, if all women took the recommended amount of folic acid, up to 70 percent of neural tube defects would be prevented. To educate and encourage folic acid intake, the Grain Foods Foundation is extending its partnership with the Spina Bifida Association (SBA) for the third year. During National Birth Defects Prevention Month (January) and Folic Acid Awareness Week (January 5–11), the organizations will launch educational tools, including a public service announcement, a Twitter party and an infographic.

To better understand just how much Americans know about birth defects and preventative measures, the Grain Foods Foundation conducted an online survey with Harris Interactive in December 2013 of more than 2,000 U.S. adults. Among the respondents, less than a quarter (23 percent) agree that having a healthy baby is a concern for them now. Still, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 40 percent of births in the U.S. are unintended at the time of conception, a trend that has remained constant for the past four decades.

"From fetal life through adolescence, the brain and body require the right building blocks, in the right amounts," said Dr. Bruce Young, a leader in obstetrics and gynecology and Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member. "For all women of childbearing age, regardless of any immediate plans to get pregnant, one especially important nutrient found in enriched grains and prenatal vitamins is folic acid, a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus, such as spina bifida."

The Center for Disease Control recently named folic acid fortification as one of the top ten public health achievements of the past decade. Furthermore, since the Food and Drug Administration mandated fortification of enriched grains in 1998, the number of babies born in the United States with neural tube birth defects has declined by 36 percent. Despite its benefits, a recent study fielded by the Grain Foods Foundation found that only 30 percent of American women actually take folic acid into consideration when it comes to their diets. 

"It's important for all women of child-bearing age to follow a healthy lifestyle and include folic acid as part of her diet," said Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, a registered dietitian and Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member. "Great sources of folic acid include enriched grains like bread, rice, tortillas, pasta and cereals — in fact, enriched flour contains two times as much folic acid as its whole grain counterpart."

Most Americans (four in five) do understand the role that folic acid can play having a healthy infant.  However, only 30 percent actually take folic acid intake into consideration when choosing what to eat and many are not aware of which foods actually contain folic acid. Among the Americans surveyed, only 19 percent identified white bread as having folic acid and just 27 percent identified enriched pasta. 

To help generate awareness for the role these and other enriched grain foods can play in preventing birth defects, the Grain Foods Foundation is launching a public service announcement, "Bread Trail," which will air on local broadcast stations and on YouTube. To further engage consumers, Grain Foods Foundation will co-host a Twitter chat about preventing birth defects with Mom Central on Thursday, January 9, 2014 from 1 – 2 p.m. EST using the hashtag #HealthBaby

The Grain Foods Foundation is also bolstering the resources available to consumers on its Web site, grainsforyourbrain.org, launching a new infographic and expert advice on the matter of reproductive health. Finally, the site also features tips for including more wholesome bread and grain foods in your diet.

For more information, please visit grainsforyourbrain.org.

ABOUT THE GRAIN FOODS FOUNDATION
The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied industries formed in 2004, is dedicated to advancing public understanding of the beneficial role grain-based foods play in the human diet. Directed by a board of trustees, funding for the Foundation is provided by voluntary donations from public and private grain-based food companies and is supplemented by industry associations. For more information, visit gowiththegrain.org.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States between December 3 and 5, 2013 among 2,032 adults aged 18 and older by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation via its QuickQuery omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data has been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

1http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/spina-bifida.aspx

SOURCE Grain Foods Foundation

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