JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[The effect of folic acid fortification on the reduction of neural tube defects]

Leonor Maria Pacheco Santos, Michelle Zanon Pereira
Cadernos de Saúde Pública 2007, 23 (1): 17-24
17187100
Neural tube defects are congenital malformations that occur during initial fetal development, leading to anencephaly and spina bifida; folic acid deficiency is the most important risk factor identified to date. Brazil has one of the world's highest neural tube defect rates. Food consumption surveys among pregnant Brazilian women showed a high rate of inadequate folic acid intake (< 0.6 mg/day). In 2004, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) mandated the fortification of corn meal and wheat flour with folic acid (0.15 mg/100g). The National Family Budget Survey estimated the average amount of bread/flour products available in households as 106.1g/day (contributing with 0.16 mg folic acid/day). However, while in the South of the country the supply was 144 g/day, in the North and Central West it barely reached 70 g/day. Folic acid food fortification is mandatory in some 40 countries, but only four have assessed this strategy. The existing studies have all shown a significant impact, ranging from 19 to 78%. Folic acid fortification is an undeniably important intervention for primary prevention, and neural tube defects can now be considered a preventable epidemic.

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