Statement Regarding Folic Acid
(In response to news today that the Food Standards Agency has decided not to introduce universal fortification of flour with folic acid, until more research is carried out.)
Medical research charity Action Research - which has a close association with folic acid research - was surprised at the news. But added that it’s now even more crucial to get the folic acid message across.
Andrew Proctor, the charity’s Head of Communications says: ‘Babies deserve to be given the best chance in life, and improving the population’s intake of folic acid through fortification is one way of helping to do this, especially in targeting the many unplanned pregnancies.
‘We hope the issue is given revised consideration very soon. In the meantime, we must remain vigilant and continue to educate women and their families about the contribution folic acid can make in babies’ developing lives’.
Action Research has a special interest in folic acid. Thirty years ago work supported by the charity discovered vital clues suggesting that the vitamin was a key ingredient in helping prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida - which currently accounts for 10% of all birth defects.
Pioneering Action Researcher Professor Richard Smithells, who led the original studies into folic acid and NTDs says he ‘wholeheartedly’ supports fortification, especially as about 50 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned.
Action Research’s campaign, Supplementing the Message aimed to highlight the importance of folic acid and encourage more women to take it. A MORI Poll commissioned by the charity in 2000 showed that nationally, 72 per cent of women aged 15-55 across Great Britain were in favour of compulsory fortification.
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