Nutrition Folate Task Team

A global nutrition Task Team for the control of folate insufficiency and folic acid responsive neural tube defects.

The work of the Folate Task Team is being supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Through Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism (NTEAM)’s Folate Task Team project, Nutrition International is helping to lay the groundwork for implementing a global strategy for the control of folate insufficiency and prevention of related neural tube defects.

Maternal folate insufficiency in the first 28 days of pregnancy is a major cause of neural tube defects. The most common forms of these defects include spina bifida and anencephaly, which are important causes of elective pregnancy terminations, stillbirths, early neonatal deaths, or long-term disabilities. Improving maternal folate status through folic acid fortification or supplementation can dramatically reduce the number of affected births and significantly contribute to reducing neonatal and child mortality.


Supporting a global strategy for folate

A recent technical consultation convened by the Micronutrient Forum – whose Secretariat was hosted by Nutrition International between 2011 – 2017 – led to the development of a Roadmap for Action to advance and accelerate neural tube defects prevention globally. To advance the recommendations featured in this roadmap, Nutrition International has assembled a Folate Task Team, which will coordinate activities for the advancement of the implementation agenda to reduce folate-responsive neural tube defects.

The Folate Task Team is leading an expert advisory group and a core working group, and benefits from the experience and collaboration of selected global partners. Working together, these experts will:

  • Facilitate access to the scientific and technical conclusions of the Roadmap for Action and folate-related knowledge products,
  • Conduct a landscape analysis to prioritize countries where actions to reduce folate-sensitive neural tube defects are more needed and more likely to show impact,
  • Build laboratory capacity in selected number of low and middle income countries to assess folate status, and
  • Support research to further inform the activities towards the global action plan.

Folate Microbiologic Assay Training Video

Through a Folate Task Team collaboration with the CDC Foundation, CDC is supporting training and facilitating capacity development to conduct folate microbiologic measurements in multiple international laboratories. Low blood folate concentrations in women of childbearing age increase the risk of neural tube birth defects in their offspring. The folate microbiologic assay will allow countries to assess population folate status. This will have a long-term global health impact by providing countries with the knowledge to identify folate insufficiency, determine appropriate interventions and reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

As part of the collaboration, lab technicians participate in training with CDC and various materials have been developed to assist with training needs. This featured video was created to aid in folate microbiologic assay training.

Webinar – Using laboratory folate status assessment to strengthen NTD prevention

March 3rd is World Birth Defects Day. On March 4th, the Folate Task Team hosted its second webinar to commemorate this important day. Knowing the folate status of women of reproductive age can provide vital information to help guide and evaluate national-level NTD prevention efforts. However, historically there has been limited use and availability of reliable laboratory methods to assess folate status, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

PDF Folate Task Team Webinar – Using laboratory folate status assessment to strengthen NTD prevention March 4

Webinar – Improving child survival at the intersection of nutrition and birth defects

On December 4th, 2018 the Folate Task Team hosted an interactive webinar with renowned global experts in nutrition, birth defects, food fortification, and advocacy. Learn about a transformative global effort to greatly reduce the risk of neural tube defects through improved nutrition.

*Please note that due to some technical difficulties one of our speakers has been added after the closing remarks of the webinar.

PDF Folate Task Team Webinar – Improving child survival at the intersection of nutrition and birth defects

Featured Publications and Resources

Upcoming Events


  • The Spina Bifida Association has released Guidelines for the Care of People with Spina Bifida. The Guidelines were developed to provide every healthcare professional– from generalists to specialists– a roadmap of the best evidence-based and expert treatment available from birth through adulthood.

Articles Featured in the Annals of the  New York Academy of Sciences Special Issue: Folate Status in Women and Neural Tube Defect Risk Reduction

Previously Featured Publications and Resources


Past Events


A global project, supported by global experts

NTEAM’s folate task team gratefully acknowledges the active guidance and contribution of expertise of the following global partners:


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The folate task team is seeking global partners interested in collaborating on this important initiative for the prevention of folate deficiency and neural tube defects.


Homero Martinez
Project Lead, Folate Task Team and Senior Technical Advisor, NTEAM


Through NTEAM, Nutrition International shares its expertise globally to support the scale-up of nutrition for the most vulnerable. We believe that knowledge, rigorously obtained and generously shared, is key to effective progress for nutrition. NTEAM convenes global experts to tackle key nutrition issues and encourages broad use of knowledge by translating technical information and research into accessible guidance, tools and resources. We also work with countries and agencies, sharing expertise through timely and coordinated technical assistance.