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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]

  • An estimated 1,000 more babies are born healthy since fortification. [Read article]

  • 50% to 70% of these NTDs could be prevented if women took 400 mcg of folic acid daily, before and during 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, 2007Among 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 $560,000. [Read summary]

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    National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

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