Sunday, December 31, 2006

Folic acid in all bread 'could put pensioners' health at risk'

All loaves of bread will be treated with vitamins under controversial plans which have been condemned as 'medication of the masses.'

A Government-commissioned report is this week expected to back the compulsory fortification of flour with folic acid to prevent babies being born with spina bifida.

But the move has sparked warnings that it would take away individual choice - and could endanger the health of elderly people by masking vitamin deficiencies.

Around 150 babies are born with birth defects such as spina bifida every year and another 750 pregnancies are terminated after scans reveal the problem in an unborn child.

Folic acid can prevent the problem so women are encouraged to take daily supplements of 400 micrograms from the moment they stop using contraception up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

However as half of all births in the UK are unplanned many fail to do so.

Research suggests that adding folic acid to all white and brown flour, as they do in the USA, would cut cases by more than 40 per cent.

In light of this, a new report by the Scientific Committee Advisory Committee on Nutrition, is this week expected to call for folic acid to be added to flour used in the UK.

When its draft report was published, Professor Sheila Bingham, chair of the committee's subgroup on folate and disease prevention, pointed out that many food and drinks are already fortified.

Source - Daily Mail

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