Government to push Food Manufacturers to add Folic Acid to Bread to Prevent Spina Bifida
In a bid to protect babies being born with spina bifida, the government is looking forward to force food manufacturers to add folic acid to bread. After a long debate for 23 years on the issue, Health Ministers have decided to decide on proposals for preventing spina bifida.
It is firmly believed that fortification measures will prevent at least 300 babies a year from developing neural tube defects. These defects have the highest rates in Europe and spina bifida is the most common.
Latest results of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey will be taken into consideration to take a decision on mandatory fortification. Professor Roger Bayston, Chairman of the medical advisory committee of spina bifida charity Shine, said people are not getting enough folate, thus government needs to intervene to reduce the deficit. Folate is the naturally occurring form Vitamin B9 and its deficiency raises the risk of neural tube defects.
More than 50 countries have laws for mandatory fortification, which reduced the occurrence rate of neural tube defects by 25 to 30%.
A research in early 1990s showed that taking folic acid tablets in early pregnancy reduces chances of neural tube defects in unborn babies by 72%. The British Medical Association and number of other charities and health bodies have been trying for long to convince the government to force manufacturers to add folic acid to bread flour.
As per BMA estimations, nearly 900 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects in the UK every year and their board of science chair Averil Mansfield has called the government to take curative measures to prevent lives by making it mandatory to added folate to bread flour.
Doctors and midwives advise women to take folic acid supplements once they become pregnant but the real worry is the fact that fetus is adversely affected when 28 days old because many women are not aware of the pregnancy by that time.