FDA Requires Folic Acid Fortification

Article excerpt

Most enriched grain products marketed in the United States will be fortified with folic acid, under a new FDA rule intended to reduce the risk of certain birth defects.

Folic acid, or folate, reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida, when consumed in adequate amounts by women before and during early pregnancy. Spina bifida is a common disabling birth condition resulting from failure of the spinal cord to close.

In 1992, the Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing age eat 0.4 milligrams (mg) of folic acid daily because over half of all pregnancies are unplanned and because these defects occur in the developing fetus before most women know they are pregnant.

"By fortifying grain products, we are making it easier for women of child-bearing age to achieve adequate folic acid levels in their diets," said FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, M.D.

In addition to eating fortified foods, women of childbearing age should eat a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and lentils or take a multivitamin a day to ensure adequate levels of folic acid, Kessler said. …