Statement Regarding Folic Acid Fortification | Action Medical Research

Statement Regarding Folic Acid Fortification

23 November 2001
Leading medical research charity Action Research, which has a special history with folic acid, argues in favour of folic acid fortification in flour following today’s article in the British Medical Journal. Action Research funded a grant 30 years ago which discovered that folic acid was a key ingredient in helping prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida. John Grounds, the charity’s Director of Campaigns and Communications says: “Clearly caution is always necessary when introducing a vitamin into the national diet, however babies deserve to be given the best chance in life, and improving the population’s intake of folic acid is crucial. We have already seen the success of fortification in the States. It’s time the UK learnt from this. “In a MORI poll we commissioned last year we found that almost three-quarters (72%) of women in the UK aged 15-55 were in favour of such a move.” In 1998 the American authorities ordered folic acid to be added to all products made with enriched flours such as breakfast cereals, bread and pastas. The results have been encouraging, with cases of NTDs falling by 19 per cent, according to research. A report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol 285, p 2981) researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, said the observed decline means about 800 more healthy babies are being born in the US each year. Leaders at the Center say the reduction is an ‘excellent step forward’ and that fortification – along with efforts for increased awareness - has played an important contribution to promoting the health and wellbeing of future generations. 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. For press enquires, please contact Action Research on 01403 327403/429 Fax: 01403 210541, or email nduckworth@action.org.uk
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