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British Government Blamed For Thousands Of Preventable Birth Defects

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In the United Kingdom, thousands of birth defects could have been avoided if the British government had followed in the footsteps of the United States government and fortified flour with folic acid–which has been shown to reduce stroke risk in high blood pressure patients–in order to ensure that pregnant women receive an adequate amount of the vitamin deemed key during pregnancies, according to researchers.

The researchers, whose findings were recently published online in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, claim that if the UK had followed in the footsteps of the now 78 other countries that have already fortified their flour with folic acid, over 2,000 cases of neural tube defect could have been prevented since 1998.

Neural tube defects are birth defects of the spine, spinal cord or brain. Such defects include spina bifida, encephalocele and anencephaly.

Had the UK government adopted the same policy as the US back in ’98, there would have been 2014 less neural tube defects in the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, in the US, birth defects dropped 23 percent since mandatory fortification was implemented in ’98.

The researchers were quoted by The Telegraph as having said that Britain’s failure “to fortify flour with folic acid has had significant consequences.”

Given the evidence from the Medical Research Council Vitamin Study regarding the efficacy of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects, the failure of Britain to fortify flour with folic acid has had significant consequences.

The research — which was conducted by experts from Oxford University, Public Health England and Queen Mary University London — found that

In the UK, between 1998 and 2012, 81 percent of the births affected by neural tube defect resulted in abortions. The rate of pregnancies affected per 1,000 births was 1.28 percent.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who recently proposed a ban on tanning beds for minors, mandated in ’98 that all manufacturers fortify their flour with folic acid to the tune of what amounts to roughly 200 mcg daily. Medical News Today notes that this requirement also extended to pasta, rice, cereals and other grain products.

Do you think it’s time for the British government to begin fortifying flour with folic acid to reduce the number of birth defects that come as a result of inadequate nourishment?

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