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Flour addition to cut birth defects

Britain could see up to 400 fewer cases of the birth defect spina bifida each year if the government goes ahead with plans to fortify flour with folic acid, a report claims.

Experts from the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus revealed in a report in The Lancet that a number of pregnancies could be saved from spina bifida if vitamins are added to flour.

The study comes after plans to ensure bakers add folic acid to bread products were halted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) amid concerns the move could aggravate other medical conditions.

But the researchers claim there is no evidence to suggest this is the case, and that recent reports linking folic acid with colorectal cancer and adenoma or glandular growths are unfounded.

Instead, it said authorities "can be confident in recommending that the UK government introduce the mandatory fortification of flour, which could prevent about 400 pregnancies affected by neural tube defects each year".

The report also added that this reduction in cases will reduce the number of terminations carried out during pregnancies.

The Lancet

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