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Should Folic Acid Be Added to Flour?

Posted 125 days ago | 13.06.19

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Should Folic Acid Be Added to Flour?

Because it is estimated fortifying flour with folic acid could prevent up to 200 birth defects a year the government is consulting on plans to add folic acid to flour in the UK. Pregnant women are already advised to take folic acid, but many do not.

The charity Shine, which has campaigned for the move for 25 years, said it hoped it would not be another 25 before it happened.

Women are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least a month before conception and up to the 12th week of pregnancy. However about half of pregnancies are unplanned, and women are not always aware they should take the supplement, or they forget to or cannot afford to.

Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida (abnormal development of the spine) and anencephaly, which affects the brain, affect about 1,000 pregnancies per year in the UK with 40% of cases proving fatal. Most babies who survive will need continuing care.

Mandatory fortification would mean everybody who ate foods such as bread would get more folic acid, but scientists have advised the government the recommended level is safe.

Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said: "The simple measure of adding folic acid to flour would help spare hundreds of families from life-changing events."

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