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

Persons using assistive technology might not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, please send e-mail to: Type 508 Accommodation and the title of the report in the subject line of e-mail.

Announcement: National Birth Defects Prevention Month and Folic Acid Awareness Week — January 2012

This year, National Birth Defects Prevention Month focuses on one of the most common types of birth defects, congenital heart defects. Each year, nearly 40,000 infants in the United States are born with heart defects (1), which are a leading cause of death during the first year of life (2). As medical care and treatment have improved, persons with congenital heart defects are living longer lives. An estimated 1 million adults are now living with a heart defect (3,4). These persons face unique challenges with their health and require specialized lifelong care.

CDC's National Birth Defects Prevention Study has identified some modifiable maternal risk factors for congenital heart defects, including smoking during pregnancy (5), uncontrolled diabetes in pregnancy (6), and prepregnancy obesity (7). Health-care providers should talk with their patients of reproductive age and encourage them to quit smoking, control diagnosed diabetes, and strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Additional information about congenital heart defects is available at

January 8–14 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. Consuming folic acid daily before and during early pregnancy will help reduce the risk for neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly (8). Health-care providers should encourage every woman to consume 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid daily from fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to consuming food folate from a varied diet. Additional information about folic acid is available at


  1. Hoffman JL, Kaplan S. The incidence of congenital heart disease. J Am Coll Cardiol 2002;39:1890–900.
  2. Yang Q, Chen H, Correa A, Devine O, Matthews TJ, Honein MA. Racial differences in infant mortality attributable to birth defects in the United States, 1989–2002. Birth Defects Res Part A 2006;76:706–13.
  3. Hoffman JI, Kaplan S, Liberthson RR. Prevalence of congenital heart disease. Am Heart J 2004;147:425–39.
  4. Marelli AJ, Mackie AS, Ionescu-Ittu R, Rahme E, Pilote L. Congenital heart disease in the general population: changing prevalence and age distribution. Circulation 2007;115:163–72.
  5. Malik S, Cleves MA, Honein MA, et al. Maternal smoking and congenital heart defects. Pediatrics 2008;121:e810–6.
  6. Correa A, Gilboa SM, Besser LM, et al. Diabetes mellitus and birth defects. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;199:237.e1–9.
  7. Gilboa SM, Correa A, Botto LD, et al. Association between prepregnancy body mass index and congenital heart defects. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2010;202:51.e1-51.e10.
  8. 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).

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 ( 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 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. #