On February 5th, 2013, IF's full membership application has been approved by the EURORDIS Board of Directors. Through its membership, IF has now joined an alliance of more than 500 patient organisations, all dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with rare diseases in Europe. EURORDIS represents 30 million patients affected by 4000 distinct rare diseases and advocates for policies that address the needs of patients and their families within the European Commission and other European institutions. In 2011 IF and EURORDIS already joined forces during the launch event of IF's publication "Act against Europe's most common birth defects: The right advice at the right time can reduce Neural Tube Defects now".
Legislation with regard to the mandatory fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid was approved and published in September 2012, making Kosovo the 75th country to require wheat flour fortification with at least iron or folic acid. Implementation and enforcement of the legislation on flour fortification will commence on 5 April 2013. The first shipment of premix has arrived this month. To increase the capacity of the regulatory authorities, sanitary inspectors, lab technicians, and flour millers who are responsible for ensuring that flour fortification is conducted in a safe and effective manner, a training has been prepared by FFI and UNICEF for 11-12 March 2013.
Women who took folic acid supplements from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into pregnancy had a 40 per cent lower risk of giving birth to children with childhood autism (classic autism). Use of folic acid supplements midway through pregnancy (week 22) had no effect. This is shown in new findings from the ABC Study and Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA). The findings only apply to a lower risk of childhood autism, the most severe form of autism. The study also shows that only half of the women participating in the study who took folic acid supplements had begun before conception. The results of the study emphasize the importance of adequate folic acid levels for women of childbearing age, now both to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and autism in children.