I welcome the UK Government’s announcement of a consultation on the fortification of flour products with folic acid.

Folic Acid is recommended by NICE as a supplement to be taken by women prior to and during pregnancy, as clinical evidence clearly shows Folic Acid helps prevent the incidence of life threatening and seriously debilitating Neural Tube Defects, including Spina Bifida. Over 80 countries across the world, including the USA and Canada, have acted on this evidence to introduce folic acid into all flour and related products. To date the UK Government has resisted calls for a similar public health intervention here, despite calls for action from leading UK scientists, the British Medical Association, and the Welsh Scottish and Northern Irish governments. Shine UK have also led a campaign on mandatory flour fortification.

It was a pleasure to meet with Shine in Parliament this week and catch up my constituent Liz from Caldicot, whose daughter Sara lives with Spina Bifida. We know now that if the UK had moved to fortify flour products with folic acid in the 1990s – as happened in 80 countries around the globe – as many as 3,000 lives of children born with preventable neural tube birth defects might have been saved. We now need to look forward, and the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid would be a hugely positive public health measure.

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