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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


March of Dimes Coalition Petitions FDA for Folic Acid Fortification of Corn Flour

By Michael McBurney

Mandating folic acid enrichment of select cereal grain products reduces the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTD). The number of babies born with NTDs in the US decreased from 4,000 infants in 1995-1996 (before mandatory fortification) to 3,000 infants four years later. 31% and 16% decreases were observed in the prevalence of spina bifida and anencephaly, respectively. As said by Dr Krista Crider, a geneticist with the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said, “Many put [folic acid fortification] on the list of the most effective public health interventions.

Fortification prevents an estimated 1300 neural tube defects annually in the United States. More could be prevented. How? By encouraging all women of child-bearing age to consume processed foods using folic-acid enriched cereal grains. For many Hispanic women, however, corn masa flour is the preferred staple. Hispanic women are 20% more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect.

DSM is proud to be part of a coalition, led by the March of Dimes, that petitioned the FDA to amend the regulations to include corn flour. The FDA response to fortify corn flour (used in tortillas, tacos, tamales, corn chips and tortilla chips) will mean that fewer Hispanic women living in the US should be lacking folic acid.

Every women of childbearing age, regardless of where they live, should be consuming 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. With 50% of pregnancies unplanned, regularly consuming recommended amounts of folic acid is important.

The prevalence of vitamin or mineral deficiency is high in the US., especially among women of childbearing age. Among US women (19-50y), 42.5% are deficient in at least one micronutrient. Using a multivitamin-mineral supplement reduces the prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Women are encouraged to take a multivitamin supplement with folic acid.

Main Citation

Jacob JA. Twenty years after folic acid fortication, FDA ponders expansion to corn masa flour. 2016 JAMA doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2611

Other Citations

Mills JL, Signore C. Neural tube defect rates before and after food fortification with folic acid. 2004 Clin Molecul Teratol doi: 10.1002/bdra.20075

Williams J, Mai CT, Mulinare J, Isenburg J, Flood TJ, Ethen M, Frohnert B, Kriby RS. Updated estimates of neural tube defects prevented by mandatory folic acid fortification - United State, 1995-2011. 2015 MMWR 64(01):1-5

Bird J, Ciappio E, Murphy R. Adult Full Spectrum Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Users Have a Lower Prevalence of Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies. 2015 FASEB J 29:586.2