Statistics show the rate of spina bifida and other neural tube defects has dropped dramatically in North Carolina since 1995.
In the 1990s, North Carolina had one of the nation's highest rates of neural tube defects, with about 10 out of every 10,000 babies born with one. The N.C. State Data Center and the N.C. Folic Acid Campaign said that rate has fallen to just under six babies out of every 10,000 births in 2005.
Spina bifida rates dropped 45 percent during the same period, falling to about 1 out of every 2,000 births. In western North Carolina, where rates of spina bifida were especially high, rates of the birth defect fell more than 80 percent. Statewide, all neural tube defects are down at least 40 percent.
Cereals and breads have been fortified with folic acid since the mid-1990s in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendations.