Number of babies born with neural tube defects hits new low

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 21, 2008

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Success in increasing folic acid intake by women of childbearing age has translated to a decline in new cases of anencephalus and spina bifida, according to a statement issued in December 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

According to the agency, 11.1 out of 100,000 live births were born with anencephalus in 2005, a substantial decrease from the 1991 rate of 18.4. The rate for spina bifida was 18.0 in 2005, a significant decline from the 24.9 noted in 1991. Because of incomplete reporting, these numbers do not include data for Maryland, New Mexico and New York. In general, the CDC considers both spina bifida and anencephalus to be underreported.

The U.S. Public Health Service called for women who could become pregnant to up their intake of folic acid in 1992. Also, the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 mandated that enriched grain include this vitamin.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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