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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

South Florida Professor Co-edits Special Issue of Birth Defects Research

Dr. Russell Kirby, USF distinguished professor and Marrell Endowed Chair in the College of Public Health’sDepartment of Community and Family Health, has co-edited a special issue of Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, highlighting the latest birth defects research.

One study in particular, according to Kirby, indicated a decrease in birth defects prevention programs and folic acid awareness outreach efforts.

Dr. Russell Kirby. (Photo courtesy of USF COPH)

The study, “Using State and Provincial Surveillance Programs to Reduce Risk of Recurrence of Neural Tube Defects in the United States and Canada: A Missed Opportunity?” is part of a series of research articles using population-based data published as a “Special Issue: 2016 Congenital Malformations Surveillance Report: A Report from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network” for the November issue of Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology.

“The results of this study, conducted by Dr. Timothy J. Flood and his team, raises concerns since we have strong evidence for preventing neural tube defects (NTD) with high doses of folic acid in women who have already had a baby born with an NTD,” Kirby said.

Researchers examined U.S. and Canadian birth defects surveillance programs in 2015 to determine whether public health programs to ensure women who experienced a birth with a neural tube defect have access to supplements with a high dose of folic acid.  These women are a greater risk of having another baby with a neural tube defect, but this risk is greatly reduced by following higher preconception folic acid supplementation guidelines.

According to Kirby, two large randomized controlled trials published in the early 1990s have indicated that a larger dose of folic acid could prevent birth defects and largely reduce the likelihood of a women experiencing a subsequent pregnancy with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.

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