A new study has made a starling finding about Hispanic babies. According to the researchers, the babies of Hispanic mothers are higher risk of developing serious birth defects of the brain and spine called ‘neural tube’ defects.
The major finding has been made in a report released by the March of Dimes.
In this report, the researchers analyzed pregnancy trends in women of different races. They found that Hispanic women had higher rates of brain and spinal birth defects, and premature births. Hispanic women had a preterm birth rate that was 12 percent higher than white women. They were also three times more likely than white women to be pregnant before the age of 17. On top of that, Hispanic women were less likely to finish high school and less likely to have insurance. The combination of these factors could explain why Hispanic women give birth prematurely at before week 37.
When the researchers examined potential causes of neural tube defects, which are defects related to the spinal cord or brain, they reasoned that diet could be playing a huge factor. The team stated that Hispanics tend to eat a lot of corn masa flour. The flour is often not enriched with essential vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid. The researchers found that Hispanic women were also less likely to state that they took multivitamins during pregnancy, which could also affect their baby’s risk of birth defects.
“This is why the March of Dimes is striving to have masa cornmeal fortified with folate,” said Dr. Diana Ramos, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles according to WebMD. “Corn masa flour is not part of the standard American diet, so, since 2012, we’ve been working on this, making progress slowly.”