Folic Acid Before And During Pregnancy May Not Be Sufficient to Curb Neural Tube Defects: UK’s Failure to Fortify Flour with Folic Acid Has Caused Around 2000 Avoidable Cases Of Neural Tube Defect Since 1998!

According to press release of British Medical Journal, the Uk’s failure to fortify flour with folic acid has caused around 2000 avoidable cases of neural tube defects since 1998. This fact concludes the research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.The researchers adviced that UK should follow the lead of the US and 76 other countries, to curb the associated toll of fetal and infants death and disability. Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain,spin,or spinal cord which also include spina bifida, anencephaly and encephalocele. In 1991, UK Medical Research Council Vitamin Study, showed that a supplement of folic acid taken before and during easy pregnancy cut the risk of neural tube defects by 72%.

The recent research pointed the impracticality to achieve a high  level of folate from drugs alone,so taking supplements and eating foods fortified with folic acid are a sensible options for women intending to become pregnant the researchers said. The researchers found out that most women do not take folic acid supplements before pregnancy as advised by Department of Health in England  to reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect . The researcher estimated number  of pregnancies (2014) with neural tube defects which would have been prevented if UK had fortified flour with folic acid since 1998 ; the year that US adopted the policy of 140ug of folic acid per 100g of cereal grain.


The researchers made use of the number of diagnosis of neural tube defects and associated termination of pregnancy for the period of 1991 to 2012 from EUROCAT, a European network of registers that track birth defects, which includes the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers (BINOCAR).The prevalence of pregnancy with a neural tube defect during this time frame was 1.28 per 1000 births,81% of the affected pregnancies were terminated.

USA However data shows no significant change in the prevalence of pregnancies with neural tube defect in the 14 years since the introduction of folic acid in flour .They have been able to maintain this position with the policy. The researchers were of the opinion the high rate of NTD would have dropped by 21% should UK had implemented the US policy.

In the USA, the prevalence of pregnancies with NTD has fallen by around 23% since 1998 and in Chile, where the level of flour fortification is even higher at 2.2ug/100g, the prevalence has fallen by 36%

From this research, we can conclude that the use of folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy do not completely prevent neural tube defect, this research is requesting for more consumption of folic acid through our food intake.

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