Folic acid now added to corn masa flour: FDA

June 17, 2016

(HealthDay)—Adding folic acid to corn masa flour could help reduce birth defects among Hispanic babies in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The FDA recently approved the addition of , a B vitamin, to corn masa flour, which is used in foods such as tortillas, tacos, tortilla chips and tamales.

"By adding folic acid to corn masa flour, we have the opportunity to impact a large segment of the U.S. population and protect parents and their children from the devastating that are linked to insufficient folic acid consumed by the mother before and during pregnancy," said Dr. Jonca Bull, director of the FDA's Office of Minority Health.

When consumed by pregnant women, folic acid is known to lower the risk of a baby being born with , which affect the brain, spine and spinal cord.

While folic acid has long been added to certain cereal grain products, many "Hispanic women don't benefit from the folic acid in cereal grain products because those products are not a mainstay of their regular diets—which often are corn masa-based," Bull explained in an agency news release.

That could be one reason why Hispanic women are more likely than other women in the United States to have babies with neural tube defects, the agency noted.

Cynthia Pellegrini is of public policy at the March of Dimes. "[The] FDA worked closely with us to design a study that garnered the information needed to establish the safety of this action," she said. "We're thrilled at the outcome and feel confident that it will address the disparities we've seen in the Latina community and will give even more babies a healthy start in life."

Women should start consuming 400 micrograms of folic acid a day at least one month before becoming pregnant and throughout pregnancy, the FDA says.

Easy ways to get enough folic acid include eating a bowl of an enriched breakfast cereal; eating other enriched cereal grain products; and taking a daily vitamin or multivitamin supplement that contains folic acid, according to the agency.

Explore further: Makers of corn masa flour can add folic acid

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about folic acid.

Related Stories

Makers of corn masa flour can add folic acid

April 14, 2016

(HealthDay)—Makers of corn masa flour can voluntarily add up to 0.7 mg. of folic acid per pound of corn masa flour under a new approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA delays decision on adding folic acid to corn masa

January 29, 2016

Federal regulators have delayed until April a decision on whether to allow folic acid to be added to corn-masa flour, a move experts say could help prevent birth defects like those seen in a deadly cluster in three Central ...

Recommended for you

Exercise and vitamin D better together for heart health

April 27, 2017

Johns Hopkins researchers report that an analysis of survey responses and health records of more than 10,000 American adults for nearly 20 years suggests a "synergistic" link between exercise and good vitamin D levels in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.