Folate Status and Neural Tube Defects in Aboriginal Australians: The Success of Mandatory Fortification in Reducing a Health Disparity

Heather D'Antoine, Carol Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Historically, neural tube defects (NTD) in Australia affected around 1 in every 1000 births; 42% higher for Aboriginal births. Following firm evidence of the protective effect of periconceptional folate, health promotion activities encouraged increased folate intake through diet and supplements and limited voluntary food fortification. A 30% reduction in NTD was observed in non-Aboriginal but not Aboriginal infants, widening the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rates. Mandatory flour fortification with folic acid in 2009, led to further reductions in overall NTD, and greater reduction among Aboriginal infants, such that rates in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal infants were similar by 2010-2014. Elimination of this disparity will make a small but important contribution to the Australian government's Closing the Gap initiative to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal people. Long-term, complete, high-quality surveillance data on NTD have been of great value in monitoring trends in and evaluation of public health interventions for NTD in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernzz071
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Volume3
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019

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