The China-US Study on the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects using Folic Acid (1999)
Haskett, Dorothy Regan
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From 1993 to 1995 researchers led by Robert J. Berry from the US Centers for Disease Control headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and Zhu Li from Beijing Medical University in Beijing, China, conducted a collaborative study in China on the prevention of neural tube defects or NTDs using folic acid supplements. NTDs are birth defects in which openings in the spinal cord or the brain that occur during early development remain after birth. Neural-tube formation occurs in early pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant and therefore before she has begun taking prenatal vitamins. The researchers presented their findings in the article “Prevention of the Neural Tube Defects with Folic Acid in China” published in 1999 in The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers from The China-US study found that women who took folic acid in the periconceptional period, or the time before conception through the first twenty-eight days after conception, reduced the occurrence of NTDs.