Adding folic acid to Latin American foods can help reduce birth defects
June 17th, 2011
10:37 AM ET

Adding folic acid to Latin American foods can help reduce birth defects

Alexandra Dixon was born with a hole in her lower back, exposing her spinal cord, a condition called spina bifida. Within 48 hours, she had two surgeries to begin correcting her birth defect: One to close the hole and another to insert a cerebral shunt – a tube moving excess fluid from her head to prevent excessive pressure on the brain.  In her 29 years, Dixon has had 18 surgeries to correct this birth defect – a type of neural tube defect (NTD), which can kill many infants and put others in wheelchairs for life.

Each year about 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects in the United States, including the one Dixon had, and the highest rates are found among Hispanics compared to other racial or ethnic groups.

So the March of Dimes is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow food producers to fortify corn masa flour with the B vitamin folic acid, which "could prevent more serious birth defects of the brain and spine in the Hispanic community," according to a March of Dimes commentary published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Research has shown that if women are getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy most neural tube defects can be prevented, according to the National Institutes of Health. In 1996, the FDA mandated that manufacturers enrich cereal grains (used in breads and pastas) with folic acid. However, corn masa flour – which is a staple ingredient in Latin American foods such as corn tortillas and tamales – was not included in that FDA regulation. Since the FDA mandate, the prevalence of NTDs has dropped significantly in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes and lead author of the commentary says in the early 1990's, when folate fortification was being considered, the discussion was primarily focused on wheat flour. "15 years later, the proportion of Hispanic women in this country and women of childbearing age in this country has increased, and is continuing to increase," says Fleishman.

Hispanic mothers are about 20% more likely to give birth to children with neural tube defects (NTDs) than non-Hispanic white mothers, according to the National Birth Defects Prevention Network. “This is a serious problem," say Fleishman, who believes that by adding folic acid to corn masa flour,  "serious disability and suffering” can be prevented.  Partnering with a major corn masa producer to petition the FDA, Fleischman says he hopes to see fortified corn masa products on shelves in 2012. “But I’m an optimist,” he adds.

Fortified corn masa flour is already sold in Latin American countries like Mexico and Costa Rica, and producers would likely be able to market their flour to U.S. consumers as enriched.

Consuming too much folate, over 1000 micrograms a day, can mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency, according to the National Institutes of Health.  But only about 3% of U.S. adults exceeded this upper limit and nearly everyone in that group consumed more than 400 micrograms of folic acid per day from supplements, according to the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  In contrast, that survey shows that approximately 75% of non-pregnant women of childbearing age in the United States do not consume the recommended daily intake of 400 micrograms.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Joseph R Loegering

    Because of severe Adverse Reactions caused by the Medical Community I cannot eat most Foods any more, and I cannot even get the daily recommended amount of Folic Acid out of the few Foods left that I can Eat. A Doctor wrote me a Prescription for Folic Acid, but none of the Pharmacies will fill it with Folic Acid that has none of the Inert Ingredients that caused the Adverse Reactions in the first place. They way $19 for 500 Daily Dosages with Cornstarch added that I have severe Adverse Reactions to, and when I called the Companies, and though I am a Scientist with a Balance for it, they falsely claim I cannot measure out the small amount of a daily dosage, and said they have to charge me labor to measure out 30 daily dosages, and put it into Capsules that are made of Inert Ingredients that I have severe adverse reactions to, and they want to charge me over $90 for that.

    I cannot get my Medical Records so that I can get a Doctor somewhere that will give me Medical Treatment that I need without Harmful Inert Ingredients in the Medications like those that made it impossible for me to eat anything without severe Pains.

    I need a Passport and Transportation to any Nation that will give me Religious and Political and Medical Asylum.

    This is the Laws and Regulations that started the Problems and got the Treatment I need cut off instead of them getting me Medication without Microcrystaline Celluose or other Beta-Glucans and or Cornstarch or anything Made from Cornstarch and other Harmful Inert Ingredients.

    I could not find a Psychiatrist that would agree to not Violate Court Orders and would not give me any Drugs that I was given to me and was recorded in my Medical Records that it caused me harm, and who would not give me Food substances that cause me Harm, because to make themselves Money, by Law a Psychiatrist cannot collect any Money, unless they treat you for something, so to make Money, they falsely called me Delusional about the Court Orders, and falsely called me delusional about the Adverse Reactions to both Drugs and Foods, and to do that, they say they have none of my Medical Records that show any Drugs caused me any Harm, or that say any Food Substances caused me any Harm, and they caused me more Harm forcing those same Drugs and Foods upon me, and threw out of my Medical Records their own Tests that in fact show that they caused me serious Medical Harm.

    I cannot get Proper Medical Treatment, or the Liver Treatment I need, because Bilderberg People & the Fascist US Government passed Laws and Regulation that say that in order to get Liver Treatment, they Require me to get a Psychiatrist that by Law cannot get Paid unless they Treat you, which in order to get Paid, requires the Psychiatrists to continue disobeying Court Orders which Ordered them to not to give me Neuroleptic and Anticonvulsant Drugs that a Neurologist testified to a Judge in the 1980s, saying, :”those drugs not only make him more Dysfunctional, they are killing him, “ and the Law requires them to charge the US Tax Payers for the Medical Maltreatment that nearly kills me every time I try to get Medical Treatment

    And the reason I have the Adverse Reactions to Microcrystalice Cellulose and other Beta-Glucans like it, it is a Beta-Glucan similar to what is in Yeast and other Fungi and Bacteria that all cause the same Adverse Reactions whenever I get Infected by them, and or Eat them, and Microcrystalice Cellulose and other Beta-Glucans like it in Inert Ingredients of Medications or Food Supplements, causes me to have Adverse Reactions to Beta–Glucans in Wheat and Rye and Barley like all the Celiacs in my Family.

    The Liver Treatment that they gave me, though it still is the Medical Treatment that need, has one of the most damaging Inert Ingredients for my Guts and Kidneys, and they just kept falsely blaming Adverse Reactions that I always get to it, as Side Effects of the Medication, which it was not, it was severe Adverse Reactions to Microcrystalice Cellulose, which I get from any Medication that it is in, to include Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol, and no matter how many times I tell Medical Staff and Doctors why I have Adverse Reactions to Medications and what Medications, they cannot understand and stop giving me the things that cause me harm again and again till I am nearly dead.

    But the Liver Treatment also has Povidone-K 30, a Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), also commonly called Polyvidone or Povidone, is a water-soluble polymer made from the monomer N-vinylpyrrolidone: which severely damages my Kidneys because they cannot filter it out properly. It is what caused me to get the Kidney Infection during the Treatment and then the Doctors refused to give me Bicillin LA or Penicillin that has no Inert Ingredients, and the Inert Ingredients in the Antibiotics caused gut damage that got much worse from forced Drug Treatment on top of it with Drugs that were already known to cause me serious harm. They use those drugs to make you bed ridden where they say that is good, and they only say that because they are making Money off the forced Treatment, but when you heal enough to get out of bed to try to get Proper Medical Treatment, they scream it is a Mood Swing of a Bio-polar Disorder, and force more Drugs on you to put back bedridden and in a Wheelchair, while they make Money off the Drugs they force on you, and enjoy eating the Foods you can no longer eat because they destroyed your Guts, like they did to me the last time they made me bedridden and put me in a Wheelchair while refusing to give me Antibiotics for the serious Infections that they caused. by the Adverse Reactions to the Medications. Then they will even have someone say, “Oh, all this misery is brought upon you by God to destroy you,” when are the pain and suffering is caused by the Greedy Arrogant Hypocrite Doctors that follow no one but the Devil that fills their Wallets for murdering the Innocent for him.

    The different names that the Drug Companies list the same Inert Ingredient under, often causes me to suffer severe Adverse Reactions to a Compound that was already listed that it causes me Harm, and Doctors and Pharmacists don’t realize it has Multiple names, like PVP, but I learn the names the hard way, I am Dyslexic, but I can recognize the names when I see them, even if I cannot Pronounce them, but the Hospitals know I am Dyseidetic Dysphonetic Dyslexic, and will not let me see the Lists or research what they are before giving them to me, even though I tell them I can read and understand Chemicals well enough that they had me work as a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare Instructor in the US Army because at the time I was best qualified one by experience and education, out of 127 men, they do this because they take Dyslexia as being a disorder where you are uneducated and cannot make the right decisions or function, so that they have to make all the decisions for you, and they always make the wrong ones and cause us more and more harm. In reality the truth is, though we are Dyslexic and or Autistic, we are more intellectually capable at making the right decisions than they are. tinyurlDOTcom/3wob3rq

    June 20, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. J Carroll

    Nutritional guru, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, says this on the subject:
    Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, one of the B vitamins. Similar to breast cancer, folic acid supplementation has been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, whereas food folate is associated with decreased risk.* Get natural folate from green vegetables and beans instead of synthetic folic acid from supplements. Synthetic folic acid in multivitamins and prenatal vitamins has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer, whereas folate from natural food sources is associated with decreased risk.

    *Figueiredo JC, Grau MV, Haile RW, et al. Folic acid and risk of prostate cancer: results from a randomized clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Mar 18;101(6):432-5.

    (Copyright © DrFuhrman Online, Inc. 2010 All rights reserved.
    This content may be copied in full, as long as copyright, contact, creator, and website information are given, and only if used for not–for–profit purposes. http://www.DrFuhrman.com)

    From what I have learned from Dr. Fuhrman, all Americans would be better off to eliminate processed foods and instead eat more wholesome, natural foods with higher nutritional content. Adding synthetic nutrients back into food after it has been processed out seems completely backwards. Perhaps the March of Dimes and the FDA would better protect against birth defects, cancer, and other diseases by advising people to eat more greens vegetables and beans and not exposing us to more synthetic food additives.

    June 21, 2011 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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