Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, has written to networks representing GPs and obstetricians alerting them to a global shortage of folic acid for food fortification that may affect Australia, to ensure they remind pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy to take folic acid supplements.
“This global shortage of the production of folic acid means there may not be sufficient supplies to add to wheat flour for making bread for up to 12-18 months,” Prof Baggoley says.
“However Australian manufacturers inform us they have several months’ supply in stock.”
Prof Baggoley says that supplies of folic acid for use in supplements and infant formula will not be affected by this possible shortage and he is urging doctors to remind their pregnant patients or women planning a pregnancy, to continue to take folic acid supplements as recommended by the NHMRC.
“Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should follow the NHMRC recommendations and continue to take a daily folic acid supplement at least one month before, and three months after conception. This is in addition to eating a healthy and varied diet as recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines,” he says.
“The target population of women aged 16-44 years is also encouraged to consume other food sources of folate which includes dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, citrus fruit, fruit juice, legumes such as lentils and peas, and whole grains.”
Prof Baggoley says this issue has been discussed with all State and Territory health authorities and health practitioners are being asked to remind their patients who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy to take folic acid supplements.