LONDON The number of babies born in the US with neural tube defects has fallen by 19% since folic acid started to be added to bread and other grain products three years ago, according to new research (JAMA 2001, 285:2981-2986). The finding provides further ammunition for campaigners who feel that other governments have been dragging their heels over implementing a similar fortification policy.

On 13 January 2000 the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition (COMA), a group of independent scientific experts, recommended that folic acid should be added to flour in order to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the UK. There then followed a consultation period, which ended last October. Nothing more has happened since then.

Nick Wald, a member of the COMA advisory committee and Professor of Environmental and Preventative Medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London,...

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