Folic acid fortification drastically cuts birth defects

July 12, 2007 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, Women's Health

Folic acid fortification drastically cuts birth defects
According to Canadian researchers at Laval University in Quebec, the folic acid fortification of cereals that has been mandatory in Canada since 1998 has cut the rate of neural tube defects in half.

Researchers found that the rate of major birth defects fell from 0.158 percent prior to fortification, to 0.086 percent after the mandatory fortification began.

Folic acid has been shown to prevent neural tube defects - which occurs when the neural tube, which later becomes the brain and spine, do not form properly in the womb.  This formation happens within the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman discovers she is pregnant. 

It is critical that women of child bearing age receive adequate folic acid in the event of pregnant, to protect against the defects.

This link between folic acid intake and decreased risk of birth defects caused the Federal government to call for mandatory fortification of all cereal products in Canada in 1998.

The United States began a similar fortification program at the beginning of 1998, 11 months before the regulations came into effect in Canada

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