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Folic Acid Can Help Prevent Birth Defects

Armen Hareyan's picture

Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death in the United States, but many of those deaths could be avoided. January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and Missouri is joining a nationwide effort to increase public awareness and reduce the number of babies born with birth defects.

More than 4,500 babies born in Missouri in 2003 had a birth defect, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Nationwide, about 120,000 babies are born each year with serious birth defects.

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One of the most important things women can do to prevent birth defects is take folic acid before and during pregnancy.

''Folic acid is essential for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,'' said Glenda Miller, director of the health department's Division of Community and Public Health. ''By preventing birth defects, we can prevent lifelong disability and death.''

Neural tube defects