HealthDay News — The introduction of folic acid-fortified foods in Canada was associated with a decrease in infants being born with congenital heart defects (CHDs), according to a study published in the August 30 issue of Circulation.

K.S. Joseph, MD, PhD, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues reviewed data from 5,901,701 births in Canada. The births occurred between 1990 and 2011. Folic acid food fortification became mandatory for all types of flour, enriched pasta, and cornmeal in 1998 in Canada.

The researchers found that during the study period there was an 11% decline in rates of CHDs overall. The largest declines – between 15 and 27% – were in structural defects of the heart, such as conotruncal defects, ventricular septal defects, or coarctation of the aorta.

“Although food fortification with folic acid was aimed primarily at reducing neural tube defects, this population-based intervention may also have had a beneficial effect on specific types of CHDs, which in aggregate are more common,” the authors write.

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