The Government has opened a consultation regarding proposals to add folic acid to flour. Introducing folic acid into the diets of women who could become pregnant would help reduce the number of babies born with berth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord (known as neural tube defects).
The Government is proposing making it mandatory to supplement flour with folic acid across the UK.
Around 1,000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects across the UK each year, and fewer women are meeting the recommended levels of folic acid intake from their diets alone, meaning that there is a greater risk of babies being born with these defects. Women who are likely to become pregnant, or are trying to conceive, are recommended to take vitamin supplements of folic acid, but around half UK pregnancies are unplanned, meaning that these are the babies at risk of developing these defects. Many pregnancies in which these issues occur are miscarried, or the babies are still born, or with limited viability outside the womb (eg anencephaly). If they survive the birth, the babies have life-limiting conditions such as spina bifida.
You can read about the consultation, and take part, on the Gov.uk website.
The consultation closes at midnight on 9 September.