Tuesday, 11. March 2014
04. 10. 12. - 12:00
Fortifying bread sold to the general public with folic acid could reduce the number of birth defects by up to 60 per cent, policymakers convening in Austria for the Gastein Health Forum have been told.
Adding the acid to flour has been shown to substantially reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, says Scott Montgomery, Director of the Flour Fortification Initiative.
He told the conference at the four-day forum, where policymakers will mull a range of issues under the theme of "healthcare in an age of austerity" - that that there have been declines of between 31 and 58 per cent in those defects after flour fortification. There was also a drop in health care costs.
He said: "Flour fortification has been particularly successful at reducing the prevalence of neural tube defects, and studies in three countries have reported reduced health care expenditures when these birth defects are prevented through flour fortification."
Folic acid, known as folate in its natural form, is one of the B-group vitamins. It works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells, and helps reduce the risk of central nervous system defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies.
The UK Department of Health recommends that folic acid supplements are taken by women who are pregnant or thinking of having a baby.
Whether or not to fortify bread in Britain has been debated for several years, and it is estimated that there are between 700 and 900 pregnancies affected by neural tube defects each year in the UK alone.
Concerns about mandatory fortification include worries that it may lead to excess consumption of folic acid, that it may cause cancer, and the removal of consumer choice.
But Dr William Dietz, a former director of the Division of Nutrition art the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says these concerns are unfounded: ``Folic acid fortification of flour carries few risks and has substantial health benefits," he will tell the conference.
Folic acid is not the only compound that could be used for fortification, vital supplies of iron and iodine could be given through the same route too.
There are significant levels of anemia among women, especially pregnant women, where iron deficiency can be an important contributor. And in several European countries, there are schoolchildren with mild or moderate iodine deficiency. The conference will hear that both groups could benefit from fortification.
"The cost-benefit of interventions to reduce deficiencies of iron, iodine and folate is well established," says Sue Horton, Chair in Global Health Economics, Centre for International Governance Innovation.
"Fortification of staple foods costs only pennies a person each year, but has the potential to reduce loss of cognitive function, where iron and iodine are concerned, and neural tube defects, for folate.
"Fortification is also the best way to reach women peri-conception. For women who only boost their micronutrient intake once they know they are pregnant, the damage already done may be irreversible."
'Carnival of Languages' in Vienna
A "Carnival of Languages" is being put on in Vienna in March to celebrate the third birthday of the language centre Eton Institute in the city.
Fashion students graduate with style
Last Saturday the fashion students from Vienna’s A-College held a fashion show for their graduating class at the MGC Modecenter.
English graffiti artists arrested in Austria
Austrian police say they have caught an internationally active graffiti artist from the UK together with three pals who now face up to 5 years in jail and a bill for thousands for the clean up work.
Irish banker in Austria with two wives
An Irish banker who worked for the World Bank in Vienna is being investigated by Austrian police after he was found to have two wives and children with both when he died suddenly, apparently of a natural death.
Police stop people carrier with 42 Romanians inside
Austrian police who stopped a people carrier licensed for nine people found it carrying a total of 42 people from Romania.
Another F1 Driver Hospitalised by Ski Accident
Austrian Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger, 54, suffered a broken hip and has been hospitalised after suffering an accident very similar to that of fellow ex-driver Michael Schumacher.
Austrian Relieved To Only be Dead On Paper
Austrian man Christian Kozel, 29, discovered he was dead when uniformed police officers turned up at his home in Salzburg at the weekend.
What is on at Burg Kino this week (7 March - 13 March)
See what films are on this week at the Burg Kino on the Opernring.
Police catch graffiti-villain of Vienna
A graffiti sprayer, named "Puber" has been one of the main "villains" of Vienna for almost a year. He has filled almost the half of the city with his drawings. Now, a suspect, alleged to be the notorious sprayer himself is in the police custody of Vienna and may face up to five years in prison.
Apartment sales drop in Austria
According to the brokerage firm Re/Max, the number of the real estate sales in Austria has declined around 8.3% in the last year. The exact number of properties which were sold and bought accounts to over 80,000 units, which translates into 16 billion euros. Apartments were the most popular type of property sold last year, accounting for 28,000 of the units sold, but there has still been a 9.3% decrease from the last year.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Vienna first city to be granted personal domain name|
|Animal rights group protest against Burberry fur in Vienna|
|Another F1 Driver Hospitalised by Ski Accident|
|Co-working initiative comes to Innsbruck|
|Apartment sales drop in Austria|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.