Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born in the United States with a birth defect. Folic acid can help alter that number. But first, just let that initial statement settle in your head: Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born in the United States with a birth defect.

In the time that it takes you to watch an hour-long TV show or play an hours-worth of video games, 12 kids are born with birth defects.

In North Carolina alone, 200 pregnancies per year are affected by a neural tube birth defect. That data is supplied by the “Every Woman North Carolina org” website.

More than half of these babies will never reach birth status. Others may be born but with some degree of disabilities ranging from mild to severe. Those disabilities in turn can cause babies to be stillborn or die within days after birth.


According to the Center for Disease Control:

“Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body (e.g., heart, brain, foot). They may affect how the body looks, works, or both. Birth defects can vary from mild to severe. The well-being of each child affected with a birth defect depends mostly on which organ or body part is involved and how much it is affected. Depending on the severity of the defect and what body part is affected, the expected lifespan of a person with a birth defect may or may not be affected.”

The CDC posted on its website the 5 Best Tips for Preventing Birth Defects. We would like to focus on the one mentioned at the beginning of this blog: folic acid.


Folic acid is a manufactured form of a B vitamin called folate. Folate’s key value is being involved with the production of red blood cells; it helps a baby’s neural tube develop into brain and spinal cord.

Doctors now advise women to take a prenatal vitamin with a recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) dosage of folic acid before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects of a baby’s brain and spinal cord.

This stems in part from a 1991 Medical Research Council randomized trial which indicated that increasing folic acid intake immediately before and early in pregnancy prevented most cases of neural tube defects.

As a result, 81 countries – including the United States since 1998 – introduced mandatory folic acid fortification of cereals. This action has since been found to reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects without any evidence of harm.

In a more recent study, this by Queen Mary University of London and the School of Advanced Study at the University of London has suggested that additionally “Bread and flour should be fortified with folic acid in the UK to help prevent babies from being born with neural tube defects such as spina bifida.”

You say you don’t like cereals? We want to share that there are other ways to absorb folate & folic acid.

  • Cooked Lentils
  • Enriched Pastas
  • Spinach
  • Cooked Asparagus
  • Dry-Roasted Sunflower Seeds
  • Eggs.

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. It is a time to learn and prepare. Before taking any supplements or going on any special diet, you should consult a physician, especially if you are pregnant, or planning on having a child. Many forms of Birth Defects can be prevented. Share this information with your friends.


This article was written by Anthony Scialis, Content Writer for Customer Engagement Specialist. You can follow Anthony on LinkedInTwitter, or find him blogging about social media marketing on WordPress.