Folate status in women and neural tube defects risk-reduction


Overview

Between December 2016 and July 2017, the Micronutrient Forum is convening a group of international experts from a wide range of disciplines to produce a roadmap for global action on reducing the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) world-wide.

Background

Birth defects (congenital abnormalities) are emerging as a leading cause of morbidity and under-five mortality in many countries. Future improvements in child survival will be founded upon a program of prevention. Neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly, may constitute one-tenth of all congenital abnormalities. Reducing the risk of NTDs would make a significant contribution to lessening the toll of birth defects globally.

A large measure of NTDs are preventable through relatively simple nutrition interventions. Supplementation and population-based mandatory fortification of staple foods have been effective in countries where they have been widely implemented.

Implementing these interventions globally has proven challenging. The folate status of women is not well known. Nor is there sufficient capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the incidents of NTDs.

Innovative, low-cost, field-friendly methods are needed to:

Objectives of the consultation

The primary goals of the consultation are to:

Approach

The Forum is bringing together an inter-disciplinary committee of internationally recognized experts with diverse perspectives in areas where there is still debate, with a shared commitment to independent and unbiased inquiry.

The committee members had their first face-to-face meeting in December 2016 and a follow-up is planned for April 2017 to consider the magnitude of the problem, knowledge gaps, interventions, harmonization, as well as the pros, cons and challenges of different methodological approaches to risk-reduction.

A road-map for global action will be produced, in the form of a scientific report, to be delivered in July 2017

Watch Project Facilitator Aliki Weakland discuss the provenance and aspirations of the consultation with Committee Chair Lynn Bailey of the University of Georgia,  Committee Co-chair Lorenzo Botto of the University of Utah, and Ken Brown of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Committee members

Lynn Bailey
Chair
Professor and Department Head, Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia
Area of Expertise: Nutrition Status

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Lorenzo Botto
Co-Chair
Professor, Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah
Area of Expertise: Epidemiology

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Brian Anderson
Committee Member
Vice President, Innovation & Marketing, Bunge
Area of Expertise: Private Industry

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Bob Black
Committee Member
Department of International Health, Division of Global Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Area of Expertise: Epidemiology

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Greg S. Garrett
Committee Member
Director, Food Fortification, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Area of Expertise: Public Health Implementation

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John Hoddinott
Committee Member
H.E. Babcock Professor of Food & Nutrition Economics and Policy, Professor of Applied Economics and Management, Professor of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University
Area of Expertise: Applied Economics

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Anne Molloy
Committee Member Associate Professor (Emeritus), School of Biochemistry and Immunology and School of Medicine, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin
Area of Expertise: Nutrition Status

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Christine Pfeiffer
Committee Member
Branch Chief, Nutritional Biomarkers Branch (NBB), Division of Laboratory Sciences (DLS), National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Area of Expertise: Innovation & Technology

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Neena Raina
Committee Member
Coordinator, Health through the Life Course (HLC)
WHO South-East Asia Regional Office
Area of Expertise: Policy Translation

Patrick Stover
Committee Member
Director, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University
Area of Expertise: Nutrition Interaction & Safety of Folic Acid Interventions

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Ken Brown
Ex-Officio Member
Senior Program Officer and Initiative Lead
Nutrition | Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Area of Expertise: Program Development & Evaluation

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Luz Maria De-Regil
Ex-Officio Member
Director, REU and Chief Technical Advisor, Micronutrient Initiative
Area of Expertise: Program Development & Evaluation

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