WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) on Jan. 8 paid tribute to National Birth Defect Prevention Month noting that this year marks the 15th anniversary of grain millers fortifying grains with folic acid to help prevent neural tube birth defects in the U.S. This week is folic acid awareness week. Folic acid consumption is critical for the prevention of neural tube birth defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord.
Enriched grains, such as white bread, tortillas, cereal and pasta, are the number-one source of folic acid in the diets of most Americans.
“Millers are proud of the role they have played in reducing neural tube defects in the U.S. by fortifying their products with folic acid,” said Mary Waters, NAMA president. “National Birth Defect Prevention Month and the 15th anniversary of folic acid fortification is an opportunity for millers to acknowledge their link between grain and goodness.”
Since the FDA required fortification of enriched grains with folic acid in 1998, the number of babies born in the U.S. with neural-tube birth defects has declined by approximately one-third.
The Centers for Disease Control acknowledges enriched grains, rather than supplements, as responsible for lowering the rate of neural tube birth defects by approximately one-third in the U.S.
The CDC recently named folic acid fortification of enriched grains as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.