World Health Assembly adopts Birth Defects Resolution

Congenital disorders are a common condition. The WHO estimates that some 260.000 deaths worldwide (about 7% of all neonatal deaths) were caused by birth defects in 2004. The most common serious congenital disorders are congenital heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome. To reduce the number of birth defects, the 63rd World Health Assembly has adopted a Resolution Birth Defects (WHA63.17). Member States are urged among others to develop expertise and to build capacity on the prevention of birth defects and care of children with birth defects; to raise awareness among all relevant stakeholders about the importance of birth defects as a cause of child morbidity and mortality; and to take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children and give priority to the child's well-being and support and facilitate families in their childcare and child-raising efforts. Read the WHO Report Birth Defects.
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WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, during the 63rd World Health Assembly

Parliamentary question about the prevention of neural tube defects in Europe

On January 27th parliamentarians Dr. Antonyia Parvanova, Edite Estrela and Ria Oomen-Ruijten participated in the launch of the IF-Bayer Schering Pharma report "Act against Europe's most common birth defects" in the European Parliament. The objective of the report and event was to draw attention to the disappointing progress in reducing the number of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects (NTDs) in Europe and to reactivate the debate on the importance of adequate folate levels in women of childbearing age. Following this campaign, all three MEPs now have jointly posed a written question to the European Commission. Among others, they ask the Commission if it has taken note of the disappointing results and whether the Commission acknowledges and supports the need for adequate levels of folate for women of childbearing age during preconception and early pregnancy. They also inquire if the Commission is willing to start implementing awareness-raising campaigns to reduce NTDs. Read more on the EP website.
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Dr. Antonyia Parvanova is one of the Members of the European Parliament who, together with Edite Estrela and Ria Oomen-Ruijten, actively strives to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in Europe

Flemish parliament adopts Folic Acid resolution

After the presentation of the IF-Bayer Schering Pharma report "Act against Europe's most common birth defects", Flemish parliamentarian Tom Dehaene discussed the prevention of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) through the use of Folic Acid with the Flemish Minister for Welfare, Public Health and Family, Jo Vandeurzen. His questions resulted in the proposal of the "Resolution about the use of Folic Acid before conception and during pregnancy". The purpose of the resolution is to initiate ongoing preventive actions to educate all women of childbearing age about the importance of timely use of Folic Acid in Flanders. The results of the campaigns will also need to be monitored. On June 16, 2010, the Flemish Parliament adopted the resolution  in its plenary meeting. It is now up to the Flemish Government to act upon this resolution.
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Parliamentarian Tom Dehaene successfully campaigned for the adoption of a Folic Acid resolution in the Flemish Parliament

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