Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Folic Acid in Flour

If you have heard it once, you have heard it 10 billion times: when pregnant and when trying to conceive take Folic Acid! Yet still the NYTimes reports, "an estimated 200,000 children around the world are born with crippling defects of the spinal column. Many are paralyzed or permanently impaired by spina bifida".

Experts are suggesting that governments should require that flour be fortified with folic acid, which has been shown to prevent these neural tube defects. For Americans, this bill has already been passed. The federal government has been requiring almost all flour to be fortified since 1998. However, the average amount that most women get from this addition to flour is a mere extra 100 micrograms of folic acid a day. 100 micrograms is not nearly enough to make a difference, as women in the first trimester should have 600 micrograms. For the last 10 years doctors have been asking the Food and Drug Administration to double the amount, but the FDA keeps resisting.

Keep an eye out for further news on this topic, as recently the buzz around it has picked up. The American Medical Association, the March of Dimes and several pediatric societies have stepped up and asked the FDA to amend this policy.

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