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Nutrients 2016, 8(3), 152; doi:10.3390/nu8030152

Effectiveness of Folic Acid Fortified Flour for Prevention of Neural Tube Defects in a High Risk Region

1
Institute of Population Research/WHO Collaborating Center on Reproductive Health and Population Science, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
2
Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Bio-Science engineering, Ghent University. Ghent 9000, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 November 2015 / Revised: 21 February 2016 / Accepted: 25 February 2016 / Published: 9 March 2016
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Abstract

Despite efforts to tackle folate deficiency and Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) through folic acid fortification, its implementation is still lacking where it is needed most, highlighting the need for studies that evaluate the effectiveness of folic acid fortified wheat flour in a poor, rural, high-risk, NTD region of China. One of the most affected regions, Shanxi Province, was selected as a case study. A community intervention was carried out in which 16,648 women of child-bearing age received fortified flour (eight villages) and a control group received ordinary flour (three villages). NTD birth prevalence and biological indicators were measured two years after program initiation at endline only. The effect on the NTD burden was calculated using the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) method. In the intervention group, serum folate level was higher than in the control group. NTDs in the intervention group were 68.2% lower than in the control group (OR = 0.313, 95% CI = 0.207–0473, p < 0.001). In terms of DALYs, burden in intervention group was approximately 58.5% lower than in the control group. Flour fortification was associated with lower birth prevalence and burden of NTDs in economically developing regions with a high risk of NTDs. The positive findings confirm the potential of fortification when selecting an appropriate food vehicle and target region. As such, this study provides support for decision makers aiming for the implementation of (mandatory) folic acid fortification in China. View Full-Text
Keywords: community intervention; folic acid fortified flour; neural tube defects; DALY; China community intervention; folic acid fortified flour; neural tube defects; DALY; China
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wang, H.; De Steur, H.; Chen, G.; Zhang, X.; Pei, L.; Gellynck, X.; Zheng, X. Effectiveness of Folic Acid Fortified Flour for Prevention of Neural Tube Defects in a High Risk Region. Nutrients 2016, 8, 152.

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