Flour to be fortified with folic acid to prevent birth defects

Caroline Allen
Contributor
Ministers hope that this new plan will relieve hundreds of families from suffering. [Photo: Getty]

The government has laid out its plans to prevent birth defects.

Ministers are hopeful that fortifying flour with folic acid will spare hundreds of families from suffering.

The government believes that this move will limit congenital conditions such as spina bifida.

The government will begin its consultation to determine whether this is a good idea. It will mean the folic acid will become a regular ingredient in products like bread.

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Public health minister, Seema Kennedy said that a “birth defect diagnosis is devastating for parents”.

“The simple measure of adding folic acid to flour would help spare hundreds of families from such a life-changing event.”

“Women from the poorest areas are less likely to take folic acid supplements and it is right that we do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in society.”

In the UK, around 1000 pregnancies are impacted by neural tube defects each year, of which 40 per cent are fatal.

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With the fortified flour plan in place, the government is hopeful that 200 of those cases could be prevented.

The current UK guidelines state that women should take a folic acid supplement before conceiving and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This will reduce the risk of the baby developing a wide range of birth defects.

There are a number of foods you can eat to increase your consumption of folate. These include: braised beef liver, boiled spinach, white rice, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.

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The government is hopeful that this move will have the same impact that it has had in other countries.

Australia saw a 14 per cent fall of neural tube defects after the introduction of folic acid fortified bread.

Folic acid fortification is currently a standard procedure in over 60 countries around the world, including the US, Canada and Australia.

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