Today the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will allow corn masa flour to be fortified with folic acid. This announcement is a victory for America’s mothers and babies, and caps more than 20 years of work by the March of Dimes to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs).
Scientists have long recognized that folic acid can prevent NTDs. After wheat flour and related products were required to be fortified with folic acid in 1996, the incidence of neural tube defects dropped by about one-third. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates folic acid fortification in the U.S. has saved about 1,300 babies each year from these fatal or devastating birth defects – a total of 26,000 babies born healthy since folic acid fortification began in 1998.
But corn masa flour wasn’t part of that rule, and that may be part of the reason that neural tube defect rates have remained higher among Hispanic babies. Foods like tortillas, tamales, pupusas, chips and taco shells can now be fortified. Adding folic acid to corn masa will help to prevent neural tube defects.
The March of Dimes looks forward to the prevention of even more NTDs in the U.S. — giving more babies a chance for a full, happy life, and giving their families the joy of a healthy child.
Please join us in thanking the FDA by tweeting to @US_FDA or posting on their Facebook wall with messages like these:
- Thank you @US_FDA for protecting babies’ health by fortifying corn masa flour w/folic acid to prevent birth defects!
- Folic Acid + Corn Masa =Healthier Babies. Thanks @US_FDA!
- @US_FDA did a great thing today for babies – fortifying corn masa flour with folic acid will save lives!
- Adding folic acid to corn masa flour will prevent birth defects. Props to @US_FDA for doing the right thing!
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