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European folic acid policy inadequate, warn experts

European folic acid policy is failing to prevent many neural tube defects warn experts as study finds no clear evidence of a downward trend over a 20 year period.
No reduction in prevalence
The prevalence of neural tube defects in Europe has not declined substantially in the past 20 years, despite long-standing recommendations for women to take folic acid supplements if planning a pregnancy, finds a study in The BMJ today.

So a team of researchers including Professor Judith Rankin, Professor of Maternal & Perinatal Epidemiology at Newcastle University, set out to assess the long term trends in neural tube defects in Europe.

Policy ineffective
The researchers argue that Europe has failed to implement an effective policy for prevention of neural tube defects by folic acid.

Each year, around 5,000 pregnancies in Europe are affected by neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly (problems with brain and skull formation), with serious consequences for newborns and their families.

Taking folic acid supplements before and during early pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk, but evidence suggests that only a small minority of women do so - and mandatory fortification programmes do not yet exist in Europe.

Read the full article here 

published on: 30 November 2015