The Medical Research Council (MRC) has welcomed the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) decision to recommend the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.
The decision was informed by an international clinical trial conducted by the MRC, published in 1991, which showed that giving pregnant women supplements of folic acid reduced the risk of major birth defects of the brain and spine. These neural tube defects such as spina bifida are relatively common and often fatal.
According to the FSA, countries including the USA, Chile and Canada have already fortified flour with folic acid. Since the USA introduced the measure around ten years ago, it has seen a drop of more than a quarter in such birth defects.