Report Looks at Racial, Ethnic Differences in Certain Birth Defects
"Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Birth Prevalence of Spina Bifida -- United States, 1995-2005," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: The report updates previously reported data on the prevalence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and assesses racial/ethnic differences. The findings are based on U.S. birth certificate data for four periods from 1995 to 2005 and birth defect data from the National Vital Statistics System. Researchers compared the number of cases of spina bifida per 10,000 live births during the four periods -- relative to a January 1998 mandate that folic acid be added to all enriched cereal grain products to prevent neural tube defects. The analysis indicates that from the early post-mandate period, 1999 to 2000, to the most recent surveillance period, 2003 to 2005, the prevalence of spina bifida decreased by 6.9%. The analysis also showed significant decreases in prevalence among infants with non-Hispanic black mothers, but not among infants with non-Hispanic white mothers or Hispanic mothers. "Additional public health efforts targeting women with known risk factors," such as obesity and certain genetic factors, "likely are needed to further reduce the prevalence of spina bifida in the United States," according to the report (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1/9).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.