The FDA started requiring "enriched" grain products like bread and cereal to meet a certain level of folic acid in 1998. Since then, the rate of babies born with neural tube birth defects like spina bifida has decreased by more than a third.
Due to this new evidence, the March of Dimes is urging the FDA to double that folic acid level. Lansing's division director Sheri Eldred says with this they will be able to reach more women and prevent more birth defects.
Nutritionists say all women of child-bearing age should get 400 MCG of folic acid every day and fortified products help women meet those requirements. Still getting too much folic acid can have consequences for the elderly or those undergoing chemotherapy.
Nutritionist Cheryl Martin of Ingham Regional Medical Center says high levels of folic acid can mask a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which is common among the elderly. But she says this is something doctors can evaluate and watch for. Whether doubling the dose of folic acid in enriched products will make a difference is still yet to be determined.
The March of Dimes has urged the FDA to revisit the matter and act as soon as possible.