WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — As part of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Grain Foods Foundation has joined with the March of Dimes to remind all women of child-bearing age about the role folic acid plays in preventing birth defects. Daily consumption of folic acid, a B vitamin, beginning before pregnancy is crucial as birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, may occur early in the weeks following conception.

A March of Dimes survey found 28% of women of childbearing age know folic acid may prevent birth defects and 11% know folic acid should be consumed prior to pregnancy."

"Folic acid is the most important vitamin women can take to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, and it’s most important that they start taking it before they get pregnant and continue to take it after," said Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes urges all women of childbearing age to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. Bread, crackers, bagels, pasta, pretzels and tortillas made from enriched white flour are sources of folic acid.

"Enriched grains are an easy, inexpensive and delicious way for women to get essential vitamins such as folic acid," said Judi Adams, president of the Grain Foods Foundation.