A food fortification program in Tanzania helped significantly reduce folate deficiency among women of childbearing age, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Africa Academy of Public Health.
The study was published online August 10 in PLOS ONE.
Led by Harvard Chan research associate Dr. Ramadhani Noor, the researchers analyzed data from 600 women of reproductive age (18 – 49) over the course of a year, concurrent with Tanzania’s initiation of a program to fortify wheat flour with folic acid, an important micronutrient that helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects and mortality in children. The research team looked at the women’s blood folate levels, dietary intake, and fortified foods consumption, comparing data from the beginning of the study with data collected six months and 12 months later. They found that the women’s blood folate levels improved significantly over the course of the year.
Based on their findings, the authors recommended scaling up food fortification programs in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa where folate deficiency is high.
Other Harvard Chan authors of the study included Drs. Ajibola Abioye, Nilupa Gunaratna, Donna Spiegelman, and senior author Dr. Wafaie Fawzi.