Folic acid

Food additives cut rate of birth defect

The governments food fortification programme has led to a 40% decline in spina bifida, a birth defect linked to folic acid deficiency, new research by South African scientists shows. The study is important as it highlights how a relatively cheap intervention has had a major effect on public health.

Report: 8M with birth defects each year

WASHINGTON - About 8 million children worldwide are born every year with serious birth defects, many of them dying before age 5 in a toll largely hidden from view, the March of Dimes says. Most birth defects occur in poor countries, where babies can languish with problems easily fixed or even prevented in wealthier nations, according to research released Monday by the organization. But the researchers said some innovative programs in Iran and Chile show that effective preventions don't have to be costly.

Plan to fortify staple foods

Brown bread and mielie meal, the staple food of the country’s poorest citizens, will soon be fortified with vitamins to help combat malnutrition. According to draft regulations published by the Department of Health on Friday (October 18), it will soon be compulsory for the milling industry to add a range of micro-nutrients to their products or face legal action. The regulations will have important implications for children, old people and those whose immune systems are compromised by diseases such as AIDS and TB, said Health Department spokesperson Jo-Anne Collinge. It is estimated that about 30% of South African children are stunted from a lack adequate nutrition in the early years of their lives. Interested parties have three months to respond to the draft regulations (Source Kerry Cullinan, Health-e, 22 October 2002)