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A new study has made a starling finding about Hispanic babies. According to the researchers, the babies of Hispanic mothers are higher risk of developing serious birth defects of the brain and spine called ‘neural tube’ defects. The major finding has been made in a report released by the March of Dimes.
The study further says babies born to these Hispanic women are more likely to be premature than women of other ethnicities. Preterm birth rate among Hispanics was 12 percent higher than that of white mothers in 2012, the report said. Hispanics are more likely to give birth to premature babies before the 37th week of pregnancy.
Establishing the findings, Dr. Edward McCabe said, “One of the things that caught our eye was, while Hispanics represent 17 percent of the population, 24 percent of premature babies are Hispanic.”
McCabe is senior vice president and chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, an organization aimed at improving the health of mothers and babies. According to the researchers, Hispanics have premature births most probably because most of these women do not graduate from high school and most of them lack health insurance. Experts also hold the diet of Hispanic mothers responsible for such conditions.
Corn masa flour is a staple diet of a majority of Hispanics. Corn masa flour lacks folic acid, a B vitamin that can help prevent neural tube defects. In a bid to check the rise of preterm births among Hispanics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it mandatory for wheat flour manufacturers to ensure that corn masa fluor contains enough amount of folic acid, also called folate.
Neural tube defects include conditions such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which are malformations of the brain and spinal cord. They can be fatal in nature or can cause disability. NTDs are one of the most common birth defects, affecting over 300,000 births globally each year. Spina Bifida affects approx1,500 births annually in the USA.