UK's failure to legislate to make food producers fortify flour with folic acid to prevent birth defects in newborn babies is based on a wrong analysis of the same, according to scientists.
The scientists suggested the UK should follow the United States including 80 other countries across the globe that has mandatory folic acid fortification. They believe that even overdose of folate will have no harmful effects on unborn babies.
On the contrary, deficiency of folic acid may cause pregnant women to have babies with a serious birth defect called anencephaly and spina bifida. This condition is also called neural tube defects which actually affects every 1 in 500-1,000 pregnancies in Britain.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of Vitamin B folate. Green leafy vegetables, especially asparagus and broccoli contain a sufficient amount of folic acid. Moreover, folic acid can be consumed as tablet or pills and may add to staple food.
Countries that have focused on introducing the folic acid fortification have seen a decline in the rate of tube defects in babies by more than 50 percent, according to experts from Queen Mary University, London.
"Falling to fortify flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects like having a polio vaccine and not using it," said Nicholas Wald of Queen Mary's Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine.
Nicholas also explains that on an average every two women in Britain were asked to stop their pregnancies due to neural tube defects, and women deliver affected babies every week.
"It's a completely avoidable tragedy," said Joan Morris, co-workers with Wald.
Britain has already fortified white flour with minerals and vitamin-like iron, calcium, and the B vitamins niacin and thiamine.
Even with the recommendation from experts, Britain has terribly failed to introduce an imperative folic acid fortification with the reason that enough intake of folic acid might lead to high folate intake in some people.
However, new research published in the Journal of Public Health Reviews has found that these concerns were not shown to be right or reasonable.
"With the upper limit removed there is no scientific or medical reason for delaying the introduction of mandatory folic acid fortification, "said Wald.