UK to add folic acid to flour for brain and spinal condition prevention in foetuses

UK to add folic acid to flour for brain and spinal condition prevention in foetuses Credit: Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock.com

Folic acid will be added to non-wholemeal flour across the UK to help prevent life-threatening brain and spinal conditions in foetuses, as reported on Thursday, September 1.

The UK government believes that adding folic acid to flour will prevent foetuses developing conditions such as spina bifida as well as generally improving pregnancies affected by neural tube defects , causing them to fall by more than a fifth.

Neural tube defects are a rare developmental condition which occurs very early in pregnancy and affects around 1,000 pregnancies each year in the UK.

This occurs when the brain, spine, or spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb and can cause life-threatening health issues.

The public health policy ,which has already been successful in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, will see the UK government consider its proposal to add 250 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of flour.

The proposal is part of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation on the Bread and Flour Regulations, which aims to ensure the regulations are consistent with other food standards legislation.

Women are advised to take a daily 400-microgram folic acid supplement before conceiving and up to the 12th week of pregnancy as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects affected pregnancies.

However, as pregnancies may be unplanned or women in the first few weeks of pregnancy may not know they are pregnant, many women may be unaware of this recommendation.

Defra Food Minister Victoria Prentis stated:

“It is vital that we consult on this issue to understand views on all of our proposed amendments to bread and flour regulations.”

“Folic acid fortification is an example of how we can ensure the public receive the nutrition we require through everyday food products.”

“The government’s Bread and Flour Regulations consultation proposes adding 250 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of non-wholemeal flour.”

Minister for Public Health Maggie Throup stated:

“Neural tube defects can have a devastating impact on life expectancy and quality of life.”

“This simple step will ensure more women who might be pregnant, or who are trying to conceive, will have increased intakes of folic acid, leading to a large reduction in the number of foetuses affected by NTDs each year.”

“I want to encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to participate in the consultation and help us deliver life-saving changes.”

The news follows the UK reportedly consulting proposals on a rent cap on social housing amid the cost of living crisis, that would be established during the next financial year with options at 3, 5 and 7 per cent being considered, as reported on Wednesday, August 31.


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Written by

Joshua Manning

Originally from the UK, Joshua is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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