Experts recommend flour with folic acid

by Emily Wilson
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LONDON — A U.K. government health committee has advised women planning to have a baby to increase their folic acid intake to avoid neural tube disorders (NTDs) such as spina bifida, a congenital abnormality of the spine.

The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy said in its report, "Universal fortification of flour with folic acid at 240 micrograms per 100 grams in food products ... would reduce the risk of an NTD in unborn babies and children by 41 percent.''

The neural tube is formed early in pregnancy and can be damaged before a woman may know she is pregnant.

Women planning to become pregnant are encouraged to take 400 micrograms of folic acid. Health experts suggest breads and cereals with added folic acid and foods such as liver and green leaf vegetables, which have high levels of folic acid.