In 1998 the Canadian government approved the mandatory addition of folic acid in cereal products as studies in the past had shown that pregnant women did not always take their prenatal folic acid supplements to prevent neural tube defects (abnormalities in brain and spine formation).
A total of 336,963 children of women who were either pregnant before or after the 1998 folic acid fortification program was institued, were screened for open neural tube defects. The result was that prior to the legislation there were 113 cases per 100,000 pregnancies. After 1998 there were only 58 per 100,000 pregnancies found.
Dr. Joel G. Ray from the Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Center in Toronto who was the lead researcher stated that a food fortification program with folic acid in addition to the regular prenatal folic acid tablet supplementation is essential. To a large extent this will prevent these devastating congenital malformations that cause disabilities or death.
Based on: Lancet 2002;360:2047-2048.
Comments: It is also important for women to know that folic acid tablets need to be taken already before, around and after conception to be most effective with regard to preventing brain and spinal malformations. The nervous tissue is one of the fastest growing tissues in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Any deficiency of cell differentiation, for which folic acid is an essential ingredient, has devastating longterm consequences for the child.
Last edited December 10, 2012