For Latinas, Adding Folic Acid to Cornflour Could Help Reduce Birth Defects

Latinas are more likely to give birth to children with neural tube defects because they are missing a key ingredient in their diet that helps to fight against birth defects.

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The ingredient is folic acid, which has been used for decades to help fortify and enrich grains to reduce the chance of birth defects. According to the Director of the FDA’s Office of Minority Health, many Hispanic women don’t get enough folic acid as cereal and grain are not a big part of their regular diets. Instead they eat more corn based products, which are not currently fortified with folic acid.

Preventing Birth Defects

According to the CDC, Hispanic women represent the highest percentage of U.S. women who give birth to children with neural tube defects.

Neural tube defects are defects of the spine, spinal cord and brain, such as spina bifida. The FDA is now trying to protect these women and their babies by approving folic acid being added to corn masa flour, which is a staple part of the Mexican and South American diet. This should lower the rate of birth defects, as folic acid can prevent defects if it is consumed before and during pregnancy.

Getting Approval

The first thing that the FDA needed to determine was if it is safe to add folic acid to corn masa flour. They needed to guarantee that it would be safe for more than just pregnant women, it also needs to be safe for women who aren’t pregnant, men, children and the elderly. After conducting a thorough review of the available information they determined that it would be safe for everyone if they added a certain amount of folic acid to corn masa flour. Now companies have been given the go-ahead to start manufacturing folic acid enriched corn masa flour.

To do this the FDA had to submit a 510(K) to demonstrate that the flour will be safe.There are companies to help with FDA 510k, such as the These companies allow clients to fast-track their 510(K) submissions so that they are quickly approved.

The decision to approve adding folic acid to corn flour will reduce the number of children born in the US with birth defects, and hopefully it will also raise awareness about the importance of including folic acid in your diet.