Saskatchewan programme to monitor birth defect trends

Dr. Ed Lemire, a medical geneticist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon will spearhead a programme to track birth defects across the province in an attempt to work out what could be causing them. The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided a three-year funding grant to support the initiative that he conceived of seven years ago. At the moment there is no accurate estimate of the congenital anomalies, or birth defects, in the provence of Saskatchewan in Canada. Similar programmes already exist in British Columbia and Alberta, and the health agency is now urging all provinces and territories to introduce similar tracking systems as a means to lower birth defects, a leading cause of infant mortality. Read more here.
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Monitoring birth defect trends can for instance scientifically determine the effects of Folic Acid fortification and/or supplementation

Free iPhone application to help prevent Spina Bifida

In the United States VitaPath Genetics, the Spina Bifida Association and the National Council on Folic Acid recently announced the launch of the free iPhone application — the VitaTrack Folate Tracker — which allows women to track their daily intake of folate and folic acid. Maintaining an adequate level of folic acid prior to and during the first weeks of pregnancy can reduce the risk of serious birth defects like Spina Bifida by up to 70%. Studies have shown that the average consumption of folate among women of child-bearing age is well below the recommended level. Designed specifically for the iPhone, the VitaTrack Folate Tracker application will help women ensure that they are consuming the recommended amount of daily folic acid before becoming pregnant.
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women take 400 mcg per day of folic acid in addition to folate from regular diet at least one month before getting pregnant

Carer payments for parents of adult children with severe disabilities

In New Zealand the Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan has called on the Government to begin carer payments immediately to a group of parents looking after adult children with severe disabilities. The Human Rights Review Tribunal has found the policy not to pay family members for the services they provide to their children discriminating. The Tribunal did not accept that the support given by family members to “heavily dependent persons”, particularly when they reach adolescence and adulthood, can be considered as “natural” support. The Tribunal also found that the policy acted against the objectives of the NZ Disability Strategy. The NZ government has appealed the decision. Meanwhile the National Health Committee has published the report "How should we care for the carers, now and into the future?".
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Nine parents went to court to demand payment from the Ministry of Health for the care they provide for their children in the family home

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