The governments food fortification programme has led to a 40% decline in spina bifida, a birth defect linked to folic acid deficiency, new research by South African scientists shows. The study is important as it highlights how a relatively cheap intervention has had a major effect on public health.
WASHINGTON - About 8 million children worldwide are born every year with serious birth defects, many of them dying before age 5 in a toll largely hidden from view, the March of Dimes says. Most birth defects occur in poor countries, where babies can languish with problems easily fixed or even prevented in wealthier nations, according to research released Monday by the organization. But the researchers said some innovative programs in Iran and Chile show that effective preventions don't have to be costly.
Women have yet another reason to stop smoking while pregnant. In the largest study of its kind, plastic surgeons found smoking during pregnancy significantly elevates the risk of having a child with excess, webbed or missing fingers and toes, according to the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In fact, the study found that smoking just half a pack per day increases the risk of having a child born with a toe or finger defect by 29 percent.