Sept. 28, 2004
SPINA BIFIDA AWARENESS MONTH
Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I rise in recognition of October as Spina Bifida Awareness Month.
Spina bifida is the Nation's most common, permanently disabling birth defect. It is a neural tube defect that occurs when the central nervous system does not properly close during the early stages of pregnancy. Each year more than 4,000 pregnancies are affected and of these 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida. The most severe form of spina bifida occurs in 96 percent of children born with this disease. However, thanks to the good work that the Spina Bifida Association of America is carrying out to promote prevention and to enhance the lives of all affected by this condition, substantial progress is being made.
During Spina Bifida Awareness Month, a special effort is made to increase public awareness about spina bifida and its prevention. Simply by taking a daily dose of the B vitamin, folic acid, women of childbearing age have the power to reduce the incidence of spina bifida by up to 75 percent. Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, show that 40 percent of women of childbearing age now report taking a vitamin containing folic acid every day. In addition, since the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, decision to fortify enriched grains with folic acid, CDC has documented a 26 percent decline in these birth defects. These simple changes that produce profound effects clearly demonstrate the importance of awareness.
In addition to educating the public about spina bifida, the Spina Bifida Association of America also addresses the needs of the spina bifida community. Founded in 1973, the association is the only national organization solely dedicated to advocating on behalf of the spina bifida community. Today, there are approximately 60 chapters serving over 125 communities nationwide.
I am honored to support the Spina Bifida Association and wish to commend them for all of their hard work to prevent and reduce suffering from this birth defect. I greatly appreciate their efforts to improve the lives of those 70,000 individuals living with spina bifida throughout our country. I wish the Spina Bifida Association of America the best of luck in its endeavors and urge all of my colleagues to support the association's efforts.