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expert reaction to folic acid being added to UK flour in effort to reduce birth defects

Reactions to reports that folic acid will be added to UK flour in an effort to reduce birth defects.

 

Sir Colin Blakemore, School of Advanced Study, University of London, said: 

“81 countries are already benefitting from pioneering British research, funded by the Medical Research Council thirty years ago, which proved that the B vitamin folic acid can prevent serious birth defects. If the decision to fortify flour with folic acid in this country is confirmed, it will be widely welcomed. It is right that governments should be cautious and should take good advice before introducing public health measures, but the evidence of safety as well as benefit is now overwhelming. Our thoughts go to the thousands of babies whose lives could have been saved if this measure had been implemented more promptly, and all British families must hope that fortification will now be introduced as quickly as possible.”

 

Prof Nicholas Wald, Professor of Environmental and Preventative Medicine, Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, said:

“I am delighted to hear the news reported in the Guardian that flour will be fortified with folic acid in the UK, to prevent the birth defects spina bifida and anencephaly. If this is officially confirmed, the UK would be taking an important step in preventive medicine, and helping to avoid disability or termination of pregnancy. There will undoubtedly now be discussion over the level of fortification, which should be high enough to prevent an estimated half of cases of spina bifida and anencephaly. Fortification of flour with folic acid provides a safety net; it does not mean that women no longer need to take a folic acid supplement and this should be 5mg a day, to obtain the full level of protection.”

 

 

Declared interests

None received.

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