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Data and Statistics

Each year in the United States

  • There are 3,000 pregnancies affected by spina bifida or anencephaly, which are neural tube defects (NTDs) caused by the incomplete closing of the spine and skull.
    [Read article]
  • About 1,300 babies are born without a neural tube defect since folic acid fortification. [Read article]
  • Many, but not all, neural tube defects could be prevented if women took 400 mcg of folic acid daily, before and during early pregnancy. [Read article]
  • Half of all pregnancies are unplanned. [Read article]
Trends in Spina Bifida, US 1991-2005

Hispanic/Latina Women

  • Have the highest rate among women having a child affected by these birth defects. [Read summary]
  • Have lower blood folate levels and are less likely to consume foods fortified with folic acid. [Read article]
  • Are less likely to have heard about folic acid, to know it can prevent birth defects, or take vitamins containing folic acid before pregnancy. [Read article]

Use of Supplements Containing Folic Acid Among Women of Childbearing Age -- United States

2007 Survey Data
Use of Supplements Containing Folic Acid Among Women of CHildbearing AGe - US, 2007

Among all women of childbearing age:

  • 40% reported taking folic acid daily.
  • 81% reported awareness of folic acid.
  • 12% reported knowing that folic acid should be taken before pregnancy.
Women of childbearing age who were aware of folic acid reported hearing about it from:
  • Health care provider (33%)
  • Magazine or newspaper (31%)
  • Radio or television (23%)
  • Women aged 18-24 years were more likely to hear about folic acid from a magazine or newspaper (25%) or school or college (22%) than from their health care provider (17%). Whereas 37% of women aged 25-34 years and 36% of women 35-45 years reported hearing about folic acid from their health care provider.

Among women who reported not taking a vitamin or mineral supplement on a daily basis, the most common reasons were:

  • "Forgetting" (33%)
  • "No need" (18%)
  • "No reason" (14%)
  • “Already get balanced nutrition” (12%)
2005 Survey Data

Among all women of childbearing age:

  • 33% reported taking folic acid daily.
  • 84% reported awareness of folic acid.
  • 7% reported knowing that folic acid should be taken before pregnancy.

Among women who reported not taking a vitamin or mineral supplement on a daily basis, the most common reasons were:

  • Forgetting to take supplements (28%)
  • Perceiving they do not need them (16%)
  • Believing they get needed nutrients and vitamins from food (9%)

When asked, "For what specific need would you start taking a vitamin or mineral supplement?" The most common reported needs were:

  • Being sick or in poor health (20%)
  • A doctor's recommendation (20%)
  • The need for energy (9%)
  • Being pregnant (8%)
  • Being deficient in any vitamins or minerals (7%)
  • Balancing the diet (6%)
  • Keeping bones strong (6%)
  • In addition, 11% cited no specific need that would motivate them to begin taking a vitamin or supplement. Among women who reported not consuming a vitamin or mineral supplement daily, 31% indicated they had received a doctor's recommendation.

Economic Cost

  • The annual medical care and surgical costs for people with spina bifida exceed $200 million. [Read article]
  • The total lifetime cost of care for a child born with spina bifida is estimated to be $706,000.1 [Read summary]

Highlighted Articles

Folic Acid and Birth Defects
Every woman needs to get enough folic acid each day, even if she does not plan to become pregnant.
(Published: January 2, 2015)

Pop Quiz!
How much do you know about Folic Acid? Take our quiz and find out.
(Published: January 7, 2013)

The Importance of Folic Acid
Read Anifa's story and find out what CDC is doing to help.
(Published: May 7, 2012)

Folic Acid Fortification
Folic acid fortification continues to prevent neural tube defects.
(Published Date: January 2015)

References

  1. Grosse SD, Ouyang L, Collins JS, Green D, Dean JH, Stevenson RE. Economic evaluation of a neural tube defect recurrence prevention program.
    American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008; 35(6):572–577.
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