Government to mandate folic acid in flour to protect babies
RDNZ has campaigned for more than a decade for the government to mandate the addition of folic acid to flour to reduce the number of babies born with spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
"Rare Disorders NZ supported the Ministry for Primary Industries proposal in 2019 and is pleased to see this recommendation finally being followed to protect babies," says RDNZ CE Lisa Foster.
The policy, to be introduced over two years, would ensure all non-organic wheat flour for making bread is fortified in a move the Government says could prevent between 162 and 240 neural tube defects – birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord such as spina bifida – over 30 years.
New Zealand’s rate of neural tube defects was high compared to other countries who have a mandatory fortification approach, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States.
“This is about protecting babies. Low folate levels in mothers cause neural tube defects that result in the death of babies, or life-long disability,” Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall said.