Government plans to fortify flour with folic acid welcomed by Christian group

(Photo: Unsplash/Alex Pasarelu)

The Christian Medical Fellowship is hoping that the Government's plans to add folic acid to flour will lead to a drop in the number of babies being aborted for spina bifida. 

The Government has launched a consultation into its plans to fortify flour with folic acid, which women are recommended to take during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects. 

The Government's Chief Medical Officer advises that women take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day at least a month before conception and up to the 12th week of pregnancy. 

However, many women do not take the daily recommended dose. 

By fortifying flour with folic acid, the Government hopes to prevent spina bifida and other birth defects.  

Flour milled in the UK already has thiamine, niacin, iron and calcium added to it.  

Folic acid is added to flour in dozens of countries, including in Canada, where it halved the number of neural defects after being introduced in the nineties.

"Women from the poorest areas are less likely to take folic acid supplements and it is right that we do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in society," Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said.

"We all want to give our children the best start in life and a birth defect diagnosis is devastating for parents.

"The simple measure of adding folic acid to flour would help spare hundreds of families from such a life-changing event."

The Christian Medical Fellowship welcomed the plans.

"Neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly are serious but preventable and reasonable interventions to reduce the incidence of these conditions is potentially very positive," it said.

"Many other countries have taken similar measures and seen the incidence of neural tube defects fall significantly.

"Despite real advances with the in utero surgical treatment of spina bifida, diagnosis of such neural tube defects sadly often leads to abortion.

"If the condition can be prevented from developing in the first place, this would be very positive. We are glad to hear that the Government will be giving serious consideration to the potential benefits of fortifying all flour with folic acid."