Flour to be fortified with folic acid under Government plans 

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Pregnant women are currently advised to take a folic acid supplement before conceiving and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to cut the risk of their baby developing spina bifida or anencephaly, where the majority of the brain never develops.

But some women forget to take the supplement, do not heed the advice or do not discover they are pregnant until it is too late.

Folic acid fortification has been adopted in more than 60 countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada and the US.

In Australia, neural tube defects fell 14 per cent following the mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid.

Shine chief executive Kate Steele said: “Shine is delighted that the consultation on how mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid will be introduced in the UK has now been launched.

“After more than 25 years of campaigning for this, we look forward to the day that mandatory fortification with folic acid finally becomes a reality.

“Its introduction will change many lives for the better by reducing the incidence of anencephaly and spina bifida.

“This relatively simple step will give new babies and children, and their families, the chance of happier, healthier lives.”

Professor Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, said: “Nine in 10 UK women aged 16 to 49 have blood folate levels associated with increased risk of neural tube defect-affected pregnancy.

“With so many women at increased risk, mandatory fortification of flour is a safe and effective way of reducing this number.”

Dr Alison Wright, Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:

“We are delighted with the Government’s announcement to consult on fortifying flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in babies.

“In the UK, there are around 1,000 diagnoses of neural tube defects, such as anencephaly and spina bifida every year. Current evidence indicates that fortification will prevent around half of these neural tube defects.

“Fortifying flour with folic acid is simple, safe and evidence-based and will ensure all women receive adequate folic acid through their diet.”



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