Ministers consider plans to add folic acid to white flour and bread

Ministers consider plans to add folic acid to white flour and bread in an effort to save babies from devastating medical conditions

  • It’s understood ministers are keen to approve the fortification of flour and bread 
  • Evidence which removes concerns about adding folic acid is to be considered 
  • Flour and bread already have vitamins and minerals added as a public health measure

Folic acid could finally be added to white flour and bread in an effort to save babies from devastating medical conditions under plans being considered by ministers.

Evidence which removes concerns about adding the vitamin is due to be considered by the Government’s Committee on Toxicity this week.

The Daily Mail understands that ministers are keen to approve the fortification of flour and bread after more than a decade of research into the health implications.

Flour and bread already have vitamins and minerals added as a public health measure. 

Adding folic acid is seen by experts as crucial in preventing babies in the womb from developing devastating Neural Tube Defects (NTD).

Folic acid could finally be added to white flour and bread in an effort to save babies from devastating medical conditions

Spina bifida is the best known NTD and occurs when the spine does not develop properly, generally leading to paralysis and a host of other medical complications.

A second condition called anencephaly occurs when the brain does not form properly and is fatal, leading to a miscarriage.

In the UK two women have abortions every day after finding their developing baby has an NTD. At the same time two babies are born every week with spina bifida.


  • Robots are set to carry out dementia care within 20 years in…


    Death of the local bus: Councils are causing the ‘slow…

Share this article

A lack of the vitamin was linked to NTDs in British research conducted as far back as 1991. Since then countries – other than in Europe – have added it to white flour and therefore white bread, pasta and other foods. Some 75 countries have mandatory fortification programmes for folic acid, including the US, Canada and South Africa.

In Britain supporters suggest it would save 165 to 500 babies a year.

Some experts worried that adding the vitamin to flour and bread would effectively lead to an overdose with unspecified health consequences, or would mask other illnesses.

Adding folic acid is seen by experts as crucial in preventing babies in the womb from developing devastating Neural Tube Defects (NTD). Pictured, folic acid tablets

However a study by British experts this year found that previous assumptions of a supposed maximum safe limit for consumption were based on a flawed study that contained a serious statistical error.

The research by a team from Queen Mary University of London and the School of Advanced Study, University of London, will be assessed by the Committee on Toxicity. It is assumed the findings will be confirmed, so clearing the way for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to back the idea.

Professor Sir Nicholas Wald, from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary, who led the research, said: ‘Failing to fortify flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects is like having a polio vaccine and not using it.’

MPs and peers are pressing for a law obliging flour manufacturers to fortify their products.

Labour MPs Owen Smith, chairman of the all-party group on folic acid fortification, said: ‘Ministers cannot go on ignoring the heartbreaking facts that every week in this country two children are born with a neural tube defect, and every day two pregnancies are terminated as a result of the diagnosis of such conditions in the womb.

‘The scientific evidence for fortification is absolutely clear. The Government must now get on with legislating for the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.’

 

Source: Read Full Article