• folate;
  • fortification;
  • neural tube defects;
  • primary prevention;
  • register

ABSTRACT  This paper reviews the role of the Western Australian Birth Defects Registry in the primary prevention of neural tube defects. The Registry provides complete and up-to-date information on all neural tube defects (NTD), including terminations of pregnancy. These data have been used to determine a baseline rate of NTD and to monitor trends in NTD over time, when health promotion of folic acid supplement use and voluntary fortification of food with folate were introduced. The register has also been used to investigate NTD in special populations (Indigenous infants in Australia) and as a sampling frame for case control studies. The data derived from these studies have been used to assist in assessing whether mandatory food fortification in Australia is indicated to prevent NTD.