Risk of neural tube defects higher among Hispanic newborns – Tech Times

A reported released earlier this month says that Hispanic women are more likely to have babies with neural tube birth defects, and that 25% of babies born too early (preterm births) are Hispanic.

Researchers think much of the health concerns surrounding Hispanic pregnant women could be caused by diet, specifically by a low intake of vitamins and nutrients necessary for healthy pregnancies.

The report, released by March of Dimes on June 4, says that Hispanic women have a greater proportion of babies annually than any other ethnic group in the U.S., and a higher percentage of these births result in defects, when compared to white births. The preterm birth rate in the U.S. is declining across the board, but the Hispanic preterm birth rate is declining at the slowest rate. In fact, one in four preterm births are Hispanic.

One of the reasons behind these statistics, researchers believe, is the lower intake of folic acid in Hispanic women’s diets. Folic acid, which is found in large amounts in wheat flour, is not found as much in the corn masa flour that comprises much of the diet. According to the March of Dimes study, Hispanic women do not report taking folic acid multivitamins during pregnancy as much as other ethnic groups. Studies have shown that enough folic acid intake before as well as during pregnancies can significantly reduce chances of neural tube defects.

“Planning, prenatal care, perpetuating healthy behaviors, are first steps to having a healthy baby. Daily folic acid to prevent birth defects in the baby and a healthy weight are part of planning,” says Diana Ramos, a doctor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, involved with the March of Dimes study and its efforts to reduce birth defects in the Hispanic community.

Neural tube defects are brain, spine, and spinal cord defects that occur during the pregnancy, often in the earlier stages. The most common neural tube defects can lead to nerve damage and paralysis, or underdevelopment of the skull, often leading to death.

March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that strives for healthier pregnancies and births, and makes efforts to educate women about potential birth defects and complications. It offers information on both its English and its Spanish-language sites about the significance of folic acid and other protective measures necessary for healthy births.

Risk of neural tube defects higher among Hispanic newborns – Tech Times

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