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If youâre a Latina whoâs expecting a baby, your diet may be missing a key ingredient believed to help prevent certain kinds of birth defects.
That ingredient? Folic acid, which has long been used to fortify, or strengthen, certain enriched grains.
However, as CAPT Richardae Araojo, director of the U.S. Food & Drug Administrationâs (FDA) Office of Minority Health notes, âHispanic women may not benefit from folic acid-enriched cereal grain products because these products are often not a staple in their diet.â
This could be a reason why Latinas represent the highest percentage of U.S. women giving birth to children with neural tube defects (NTDs), according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). NTDs are birth defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord, such as anenÂcephaly & spina bifida.
In 2016, FDA moved to help protect these women & their children by approving the addition of folic acid to corn masa flour, an ingredient in foods including tortillas, tacos, tortilla chips & tamales. Foods made from this flour are staple foods of Mexican AND some Central AND South American diets.
When consumed by pregnant women before AND during pregnancy, folic acidâa B vitaminâmay help to prevent neural tube defects.
Corn masa flour, sometimes called masaâSpanish for doughâis produced by cooking corn in alkali (a substance that has a bitter taste & then forms a salt when mixed with an acid), then grinding it.
An Important Preventive Step
In 1998, in response to a recommendation by CDC & the U.S. Public…