Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content
CDC Home

Announcement: National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week — January 2013

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Each year, birth defects affect approximately one in 33 newborns in the United States (1). Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality, accounting for approximately 20% of infant deaths (2). Babies who survive and live with birth defects are more likely to have life-long physical and cognitive challenges. In the United States each year, the total hospital costs of children with birth defects exceed $2.6 billion (3).

Evidence suggests that use of tobacco or alcohol (4,5), uncontrolled diabetes (6), failure to consume 400 µg of folic acid daily (7), and failure to achieve and maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy (8) might be associated with birth defects. Health-care professionals can help prevent birth defects by encouraging women of childbearing age to manage health conditions and adopt healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. Additional information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/birthdefects.

January 6–12, 2013, is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. CDC urges all women of childbearing age who are capable of becoming pregnant to consume 400 µg of folic acid every day, before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy, to help reduce the risk for neural tube defects (major birth defects of the brain and spine) (7). Health-care providers should encourage women to consume folic acid in fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to a varied diet rich in folate. Additional information about folic acid is available at http://www.cdc.gov/folicacid.

References

  1. CDC. Update on overall prevalence of major birth defects—Atlanta, Georgia, 1978–2005. MMWR 2008;57:1–5.
  2. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung H. Deaths: final data for 2009. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2011;60(3).
  3. Russo CA, Elixhauser A. Hospitalizations for birth defects, 2004. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project statistical brief no. 24. Rockville, MD: US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2007. Available at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb24.jsp.
  4. Hackshaw A, Rodeck C, Boniface S. Maternal smoking in pregnancy and birth defects: a systematic review based on 173,687 malformed cases and 11.7 million controls. Hum Reprod Update 2011;17:589–604.
  5. US Department of Health and Human Services. US Surgeon General releases advisory on alcohol use in pregnancy. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2005. Available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/pressreleases/sg02222005.html.
  6. Correa A, Gilboa SM, Besser LM, et al. Diabetes mellitus and birth defects. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;199:237.e1–9.
  7. CDC. Recommendations for the use of folic acid to reduce the number of cases of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. MMWR 1992;41(No. RR-14).
  8. Stothard KJ, Tennant PWG, Bell R, Rankin J. Maternal overweight and obesity and the risk of congenital anomalies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2009;301:636–50.


Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.


All MMWR HTML versions of articles are electronic conversions from typeset documents. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr) and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.

**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to mmwrq@cdc.gov.

 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #