AIHW Board AIHW senior staff Annual report Capability statement Collaboration Customer care charter FOI - freedom of information Indexed list of files Conferences & events Organisation chart Presentations Privacy of data Public consultation Public Interest Disclosure Strategic Directions 2011-2014 Tenders
By category Ageing, disability & carers Families & children Hospitals Housing & homelessness Indigenous Australians Population groups Risk factors, diseases & death Services, workforce & spending
By subjectAdoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases
Chronic kidney disease Chronic respiratory conditions Deaths Dementia Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition Health indicators Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Injury Life expectancy
Male health Mental health Mothers & babies National health priority areas Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Data Publications Contact AIHW
Publications CatalogueOrdering publicationsForthcoming publicationsOnline reportsRate our publication effectivenessSubscribe to release notices
By subject Adoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases Chronic kidney disease
Chronic respiratory conditions Corporate publications Data linkage Data standards Deaths Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition General practice Health indicators Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Indigenous housing
Injury Life expectancy Male health Mental health services Mothers & babies National health priority areas Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Subjects Data Contact AIHW
About AIHW data METeOR - metadata online registry Data by subject Catalogue of holdings of AIHW data Customised data analysis request Data governance framework Data linking Data standards Privacy of data
By subject Aged care Alcohol and other drugs Alcohol data sources Body weight data sources Cancer Children's headline indicators (CHI) National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse Chronic disease indicators Deaths
Disability Expenditure FHBH - Fixing houses for better health General practice (GP) data Hospitals Height and weight data sources Indigenous Australians International collaboration Maternity Information Matrix (MIM)
Medical indemnity Mental health National indicator catalogue National core maternity indicators (NCMI) Risk factors statistics Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Tobacco data sources Workforce
In other sections Subjects Publications Contact AIHW
AACR ACFADD AHSAC AIHW Board AIHW Ethics Committee CKDMAC AODTS NMDS WG CMAG CSDWG CVDMAC HEAC HHIMG
IGIHM JJ RIG MHISSC NAGATSIHID NCIAG NCSIMG NDDWG NDIMG NHISSC NIAG NIRAPIMG NMDD
NMDS NMHPSC NOPSAD NPDDC NPHEP NPHIC PCDWG PDWG PHIDG PHIG REDWG Workforce committees YIAG
Education worksheets What's in the pipeline Subscribe to education notices Other educational links
Worksheets by subject All Latest Ageing Australia's health Australia's welfare Carers
Children & youth Disability Disease Drugs
Health Health prevention Indigenous Australians Injury
In other sections Subjects Data Publications Contact AIHW
Job vacancies How to apply for a position at the AIHW Conditions of employment Benefits of working for the AIHW Indigenous temporary employment register Temporary employment register Occupational Training Program Contact the People Unit Graduates
AIHW Access magazine Conferences & events Media releases Subscribe to release notices Media FAQ Media contacts
You are here:
A report providing a baseline for evaluating the impact of mandatory folic acid fortification on the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTDs) was released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Neural tube defects, the most common of which is spina bifida, are a group of major congenital anomalies that result from very early disruption in the development of the brain and spinal cord.
There is strong evidence of substantial reductions in NTD-affected pregnancies among women who consume folic acid around the time of conception.
The mandatory folic acid fortification standard, in place since 2009, requires the addition of folic acid to all wheat flour for bread making.
The report, Neural tube defects in Australia: prevalence before mandatory folic acid fortification, shows that between 1998 and 2008, the overall prevalence of NTDs fell by an average of 0.22 NTDs per 10,000 births per year.
‘The lowest overall prevalence was recorded in 2008 when there were 10.7 NTDs per 10,000 total births,’ said AIHW spokesperson Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan.
‘The report also shows different trends in the prevalence of individual NTDs such as anencephaly, spina bifida and encephalocele.
‘For example, between 1998 and 2008, there was a fall in the overall prevalence of spina bifida, but little apparent change in the prevalence of anencephaly and none for encephalocele.
An unequal distribution in the prevalence of NTDs across certain population groups was also found.
‘Higher prevalence of NTD-affected pregnancies are found at extremes of reproductive age; among women living in areas of relative disadvantage; among women living in remote areas; and among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,’ Associate Professor Sullivan said.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.
Canberra, 19 December 2011
Further information: Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan, AIHW, tel. (02) 9382 1064, mob. 0439 994 820
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032
Full report: Neural tube defects in Australia: prevalence before mandatory folic acid fortification