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Keywords:

  • neural tube defects;
  • spina bifida;
  • folic acid;
  • food fortification

Summary

Amarin ZO, Obeidat AZ. Effect of folic acid fortification on the incidence of neural tube defects. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2010.

In a few countries enriched cereal grains have been fortified with folic acid to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. The objective of this study was to analyse the effect of folic acid fortified foods on the incidence of neural tube defects in live newborns at Princess Badea Teaching Hospital, in the north of Jordan, before and after the national food fortification with folic acid was implemented. For the 7-year period from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2006, we retrospectively extracted the total number of births at Princess Badea Hospital, as well as the number of pregnancies affected by spina bifida and anencephaly, per 1000 births during the periods before (2000–01), during (2002–04) and after (2005–06) folic acid fortification of grain products, was implemented. Neural tube defects were defined in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10): anencephaly, encephalocele and spina bifida.

A total of 78 subjects with neural tube defects were recorded among 61 447 births during the study period. The incidence of neural tube defects decreased from 1.85 per 1000 births before fortification [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2, 2.4] to 1.07 per 1000 births during the fortification period [95% CI 0.7, 1.5], and 0.95 after full fortification [95% CI 0.5, 1.5], a 49% reduction. The difference between incidence of neural tube defects in the periods before and after food fortification with folic acid was statistically significant. We conclude that food fortification with folic acid was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of neural tube defects in north Jordan.