An alarming report reveals that over 2000 babies have suffered serious health issues as a result of folic acid deficiency.
If you have a baby on the way, you may want to make sure that you’re getting enough folic acid in your diet. According to a report from the Independent, a recent report from the U.K. reveals that since 1998, nearly 2,000 babies have suffered from serious health issues including spina bifida as a result of an acute folic acid deficiency.
Researchers blame the government for failing to add folic acid to flour, a technique which has resulted in a 23 percent reduction in infant folic acid deficiency in the United States. The report reveals that roughly 150 babies a year may have avoided serious health problems had the U.K. taken to the practice of enriching flour with folic acid.
Folic acid deficiencies can lead to neural tube defects, or birth defects that alter the brain and spinal cord. The report shows that the rates of these defects is rising across the U.K. Public health advisors have recommended the addition of folic acid to flour sold in the U.K. in 2000, 2006 and 2009, but the government has yet to act on what is seemingly a simple problem to fix.
According to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, the number of abortions carried out for neural tube defects rose from 299 in 2009 to 390 in 2012. The number rose again in 2013 to 420.
Doctors recommend that women trying to conceive should take as much as 400mg of folic acid supplements each day, and into the first three months of pregnancy. Neural tube defects include conditions such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Researchers estimated that if the government had taken measures to add folic acid to flour sold in the U.K. in 1998, 21 percent in neural tube defect cases could have been avoided. The scientists also reiterated that enriching flour with folic acid was “remarkably safe” and that recommending folic acid supplements was not having a big enough effect.
A press release from the Archives of Disease in Childhood detailing the recent report can be found here.