7th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World


21 September 2015 - 24 September 2015


Location: Serena Hotel, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Region: Africa


Recognizing the need to build capacity in lower-income countries for the prevention of birth defects and preterm birth and care of those affected, the goal of this conference was to provide specific practical tools and approaches that developing country participants can use to implement and strengthen surveillance and health care delivery and influence policy and funding in support when they returned to their respective countries.

Who is Expected

Health care providers, policy makers, researchers, donors, parent-patient organizations, other NGOs and youth volunteers from across the world interested in strengthening reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, with a focus on the prevention of birth defects, preterm birth and associated disabilities.


Contact Information

Ronald Afidra


Helena Pachón




The key information related to fortification was the value of adding folic acid to industrially milled grains to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. The main messages were:

  • Neural tube defect risk can be reduced if women have optimum folate status before and in early pregnancy.
  • As childhood mortality from infections decreases, the burden from birth defects is higher. We can only meet global infant mortality targets by reducing birth defects.
  • Globally, the current neural tube defect prevalence is 24/10,000. With all folic acid interventions, we should aim to reach a birth prevalence of ~6 neural tube defects/10,000.
  • Folic acid supplement use is low, consequently food fortification is the best public health approach to deliver folic acid to women in the peri-conceptional period.
  • Individuals should act to ensure food fortification with folic acid is implemented and monitored in their countries

See more information in this presentation by Helena Pachón, PhD, MPH, and the FFI Senior Nutrition Scientist.


  • The Aga Khan Health Services, East Africa

  • The Aga Khan University

  • March of Dimes

  • US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation