UK consultation on proposal to introduce mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid
12 July 2019 // In the United Kingdom (UK), an estimated 90% of women aged 16 to 49 have a folate status below the level recommended to reduce the risk of a pregnancy being affected by neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida and anencephaly. The UK government and devolved administrations recommend that women who could become, or plan to become, pregnant should take a daily supplement (tablet) of 400 micrograms of folic acid before conception and up until the 12th week of pregnancy.
Health education messages about NTDs and the need for folic acid supplementation are provided in a range of settings targeted at women of childbearing age. Government websites provide information on healthy lifestyle advice during pregnancy including the importance of folic acid supplementation. However, these messages may not have reached the women in time to increase their folate intake before conception, hence the call for intervention to achieve a reduction in NTD-affected pregnancies, and the resulting impact on families and the NHS.
The UK Government is now asking people to share their views on the proposal to introduce mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid. This is to help reduce NTDs in foetuses by raising the folate levels of women who could become pregnant. The consultation will close on 9 September 2019.
The consultation documents are published on GOV.UK.