ATLANTA--Neural tube defects are serious birth defects resulting in abnormal design and function of the nervous system. It is estimated that neural tube defects occur in approximately 4000 pregnancies annually in the United States.
In recent years, scientists have found that the risk for neural tube defects can be substantially reduced if the mothers simply consume 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily before conception and during early pregnancy. In September, 1992, the US Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing age who are capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
A study of folic acid awareness of women in Georgia aged 15 to 44 years was reported in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (September 20, 1996). The surprising results indicated that only 20 % of these Georgia women consumed a multivitamin containing the recommended amount of folic acid. The study further found that 71% did not know that folic acid can prevent birth defects.