Neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida occur in the first four weeks of pregnancy – before most women even know they are pregnant.
Not too long ago, NTDs affected 1 in every 750 births in Canada. That number has dropped to 1 in 1,300 since the launch of the Folic Acid it’s never too early campaign and with folic acid fortification of enriched grain products and cornmeal.
But, these measures are not enough. More women need to know that taking a folic acid supplement three months before getting pregnant and during the first trimester can reduce the risk of having a baby with an NTD, the most common preventable, permanently disabling birth defect in Canada, by as much as 70%.
Far too many women still don’t know the facts about folic acid. What’s more, approximately half of all pregnancies are unplanned, which means there are women who are unaware that they should be taking folic acid supplements in the 3 months prior to conception. For these reasons and more, all women of childbearing age should take a daily multivitamin that contains a minimum of 0.4 mg of folic acid, and high-risk women should take even more - just in case and because it’s never too early.
In Ontario alone, more than 100,000 children and adults, along with their families and caregivers, are impacted by the seemingly never-ending challenges associated with an NTD. These serious, complex neurological conditions can cause extreme degrees of disability, the effects of which can be life threatening. Help us reduce these numbers … to zero.
There are no cures. But there is a simple path to prevention. It only takes ten seconds a day to take a multivitamin containing folic acid and prevent a birth defect.
Tell Every Woman You Know!
Research shows that ensuring an adequate intake of folic acid by taking a single, inexpensive pill on a daily basis sharply cuts the incidence of NTDs. Yet more than half of Ontario women between the ages of 18 and 40 don’t take a daily multivitamin, and almost two-thirds of them don’t know that folic acid must be taken before conception to help reduce the risk of NTDs. The Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario (SB&H) wants to change that.
We need your help to encourage women to take a daily multivitamin containing folic acid sooner rather than later, and to encourage health professionals to promote adequate consumption of folic acid and provide consistent information to their female clients and patients of childbearing age. SB&H has a tremendous opportunity to empower women and change lives…and so do you.
Spread the message through educational activities. Find out how in our Community Action Guide .
Health Canada agrees that public education regarding the need for women of childbearing age to take a folic acid supplement must continue. Eating a healthy diet that includes foods high in folic acid can help, but even the best choices won’t supply all the folic acid needed to prevent NTDs. The research clearly shows that not only does folic acid reduce the risk of NTDs, it also increases the survival rates of infants with spina bifida and reduces the risk of other defects, including heart abnormalities and cleft lip and palate.
Share the information on this website. Download and distribute brochures and awareness materials. Host a special fundraising event or make a donation. By doing any of these things you are making a real and positive difference in the lives of women today, and the children of tomorrow.
We have a tremendous opportunity to empower women and change lives. With your support, we can eliminate the risks.
Every Healthy Baby is a Victory!