Reducing NTDs


Lynn Bailey

A UGA researcher is leading an international effort to create a roadmap for action to reduce neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, which affect roughly 260,000 pregnancies worldwide each year.

Professor Lynn Bailey, a noted expert in folate research and head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, chairs an expert advisory group assembled last year by Nutrition International and backed by more than $730,000 in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The effort will focus on folate acid testing and fortification programs in low- and middle-income countries, as maternal folate deficiency—especially in the first month of pregnancy—is a major cause of NTDs.

“There’s never been a global, coordinated effort to eradicate NTDs,” Bailey says. “We’re not going to prevent neural tube defects in a few years, but our collaborative efforts will make significant progress by setting up global regional labs to assess folate status, establishing and implementing folic acid intervention programs, and assessing the effectiveness of these programs by monitoring the impact on NTD-affected pregnancies.”

This brief appeared in the fall 2018 issue of  Research Magazine. The original press release is available at