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Folic Acid Flour Prevents Birth Defects Among Babies

Update Date: Dec 21, 2015 10:03 AM EST

Thousands of babies fall prey to serious birth defects such as spina bifida due to significant lack of folic acid at the time of conception and gestation.

In the UK, for example, an estimated 85% of British women in reproductive age were found to be deficient in folic acid which consequently led to either death or disability of babies according to Daily Mail.

Fortifying folic acid in staple foods like bread is already a health mandate in 78 countries like the United States.

UK appeared to have lagged in adopting similar public health initiative that could have saved 2, 000 reported cases of birth defects since 1998 or around 150 a year. Cases like the neural tube defect which appears in 1.28 pregnancies per 1,000 births often leads to abortion 81% of the time as mentioned by Independent.

Because of the alarming rate of defective pregnancies, British experts urge the government to adopt a policy similar to the US example.

According to BBC News, neural tube defects at birth had seen a 23% drop in US pregnancies ever since the federal government introduced a nationwide policy of forcing flour manufacturers to fortify their products with folic acid.

Gleaming from US experience, UK experts are calling on the British government to mull over a decision to follow the lead of other countries.

"The results of this study support our call for mandatory fortification of bread or flour with folic acid in the UK with the appropriate safeguards such as controls on voluntary fortification by the food industry and better guidance on supplement use," told Professor Alan Cameron of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) as quoted saying by The Telegraph.

Currently in the US, there are already petitions to expand the fortification of folic acid to another staple grain, the corn masa, used in making tortillas and a variety of chips as stated in a report by Seattle Times.

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