This study shows that the original scientific basis for setting an upper limit on folic acid intake was flawed, and has impeded the fortification of flour with folic acid. Fortification could significantly reduce the number of pregnancies affected each year by neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly, the majority of which end if the painful decision to end a wanted pregnancy.
A bpas spokesperson said:
“This welcome study shows there are now no scientific obstacles to the fortification of flour with folic acid. Unplanned pregnancy is a fact of life, and many women have not been able to take folic acid before conceiving. Most diagnoses of a neural tube defect like spina bifida and anencephaly end in the termination of a wanted pregnancy – and they are some of the most heartbreaking cases we see in our clinics. Many of these diagnoses could have been prevented had flour been fortified. At a time when women themselves are under constant pressure to make significant lifestyle changes in order to support a healthy pregnancy – often on the basis of very little evidence at all – it makes no sense that we have failed to introduce this very simple, evidence-based public health measure that is in place around the world. We call on the Secretary of State for Health to act on the evidence and authorise the fortification of flour, a move which could genuinely improve the health of women and their pregnancies.”
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.