Neural tube defect surveillance and folic acid intervention--Texas-Mexico border, 1993-1998

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2000 Jan 14;49(1):1-4.


Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common and serious malformations that originate early in pregnancy. In the United States, approximately 4000 pregnancies each year are affected by the two most common NTDs (spina bifida and anencephaly). In 1992, the Texas Department of Health (TDH), with support from a CDC cooperative agreement, implemented the Texas Neural Tube Defect Project (TNTDP), a program of NTD surveillance and risk-reduction activities in the 14 counties that border Mexico. The project was initiated in response to an anencephaly cluster identified during 1990-1991 in Brownsville (Cameron County), Texas (1). Whether the high anencephaly rate (19.7 per 10,000 live births) was unique to Cameron County or was characteristic of the entire border was unknown. This report summarizes NTD surveillance rates for the 14 Texas-Mexico border counties for 1993-1998 and presents preliminary results of TNTDP efforts to prevent the recurrence of NTDs by providing folic acid to high-risk women. Findings indicate that the baseline rate along the border is high (13.4 per 10,000 live births) and largely reflects the rate among Hispanics (13.8). Although a longer period is needed to obtain definitive results, folic acid appears to be effective for reducing the risk for NTD recurrence in Hispanics.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neural Tube Defects / epidemiology*
  • Neural Tube Defects / ethnology
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Texas / epidemiology


  • Folic Acid