All flour will be fortified with folic acid after ministers backed a plan that medical experts believe should reduce the number of UK-born babies with severe birth defects, as the Guardian revealed within weeks after the ministers have been convinced by their own advisers that they would reduce the risk of developing spina bifida and other diseases that cause serious disability or death.
So far, ministers in successive governments have ignored repeated petitions (1
Medical groups and health charities welcomed the decision.
"Compulsory fortification will be groundbreaking for the UK," said Kate Steele, executive director of the charity Shine, which helps families affected by neural tube defects
"A Government Decision Introducing a forced fortification will have a great positive impact on the health and well-being of newborns in the future, and in many cases it will be the difference between life and death. "
A variety of government, NHS, and advisory bodies support enrichment, which is already taking place in more than 80 countries, including the USA.
The move is also supported by medical Royal Colleges, including those who represent professionals in the health of infants and children – obstetricians and gynecologists, pediatricians and midwives. In the United States, a 23% reduction in neural tube defects (NTD) has been observed since the introduction of folic acid fortification in 1998.
Intake of enough folic acid in pregnancy is estimated to reduce the risk of an NTD such as anencephaly, a fatal condition in which the fetus develops without a major part of the brain, skull and scalp, and in utero or shortly after Birth dies.
It is estimated that two women a day in the UK have an abortion because doctors have identified an NTD and two children a week are born with an NTD, often spina bifida, which means they need to use a wheelchair.
Britain is considered the highest rate of NTDs in Europe. A large academic study in 2015 estimated that between 2,000 and 2,000 fewer newborns would have been born with NTD in the UK if the government had introduced folate fortification.
Until now, women in the UK are pregnant or hoping for it A child is recommended to take folic acid to increase the intake of folate, an approach that is ineffective according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG).
Official recommendation is a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid when attempting to become pregnant and until the 12th week of pregnancy. But many women, especially those in poorer homes, are not taking enough.
Dan Poulter, a Conservative MP and former Minister of Health, who is also an NHS doctor, praised the government for the final decision to introduce compulsory fortification of flour. 19659002] "It is good to see that medical evidence has prevailed against political considerations, and that the health of mothers and their babies has overcome the earlier successful attempts of business interests over regulation and cost burdens on businesses Health of Babies. "
Steve Brine, the Minister of Health of the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC), has campaigned for the fortification in Whitehall. Public Health England has recently made it clear to ministers that the move will be an important step towards improving the health of infants.
Labor employee Owen Smith and Lord Rooker, a former Food Standards Agency chairman, have also lobbied. So the DUP has Nigel Dodds, whose son Andrew had spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Andrew died at the age of nine in 1998.
A study published in January was widely acknowledged as a refutation of the fear that enrichment would consume people with more than 1 milligram of folate per day, which could be dangerous in and of itself. The Committee on Toxicology of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, which advises the FSA, has analyzed the issue and will report soon, with ministers likely to unveil the enrichment policy.
Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for PHE, said: "Three-quarters of 16- to 49-year-old women have folic acid levels below the World Health Organization's new recommendation for women starting pregnancy." Accumulating flour with folic acid is an effective and safe measure. to reduce the number of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects. "
Prof. Lesley Regan, president of the RCOG, said, "would welcome the introduction of compulsory fortification across the UK with appropriate safeguards, such as controls on voluntary fortification by the food industry and improved guidance on the use of supplements."
Anne Heughan, Member of the Board Royal Society for Public Health, said: "This public health strengthening exercise is long overdue and would bring the United Kingdom in line with many other countries."
A DHSC spokesman said, "Ministers are considering expert advice and will answer in due course. "