baby and mums hand

Proposal to add folic acid to flour could save lives

17th Jun 2019 - James Mildred

The Government has launched a public consultation over plans to fortify flour in the UK by adding folic acid to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.

Pregnant mums are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day, for at least a month before conception up to the 12th week of pregnancy. But many mums are unaware of this advice and so don’t take it.

Move will likely save many lives

Experts estimate that adding folic acid to flour could help prevent 200 birth defects a year. A UK based pro-life group has said the move could save ‘many lives’.

A spokeswoman for Right to Life UK, Clare McCarthy said: “Sadly, large numbers of babies who are diagnosed with spina bifida are aborted. If the Government does decide to go ahead with the proposals, this is a positive development which will likely save many lives.”

Spina bifida is where the spina cord does not develop properly and in some cases, this can result in paralysis and brain damage.

Abortion up to birth

In England, Wales and Scotland, babies diagnosed with spina bifida can be aborted up to birth, but in Northern Ireland they are still protected thanks to NI’s life-affirming laws.

Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show that in 2018, 130 babies were aborted because of spina bifida in England and Wales.

Recently, in a ground-breaking case, Elouise Simpson received pioneering surgery in the womb for spina bifida at 25 weeks.

Find out more

The consultation can be found here.

Last month, doctors successfully operated on a baby’s spine while she was still in the womb, in a UK first

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