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11
Dec

Improving pregnancy/birth outcomes and reducing health inequalities -- Scotland prepares to take a positive step forward

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Improving pregnancy/birth outcomes and reducing health inequalities -- Scotland prepares to take a positive step forward

Dr Linda de Caestecker (a respected obstetrician and NHS GG&C's Public Health Director) and I just had a column published on Holyrood's website that endorses a significant Scottish Government initiative to make primary prevention real.

We encourage you to read this brief overview -- and then, to share it widely across your networks. Linda or I would be happy to provide additional background information or respond to your questions. We also welcome your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

See: https://www.holyrood.com/articles/comment/folic-acid-bread-barn-gates-and-neural-tubes.

Fortifying the nation's flour by adding folic acid (Vitamin B9) is not our original idea. Scotland's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Minister of Public Health publicly announced earlier this year that Scotland is planning to take this step -- and these women health leaders have been in the forefront. It seems likely that Scotland will proceed ahead of the rest of the UK, despite folate fortification having the support of all four UK CMOs, the Food Standards agencies and their scientific panels.

More than 70 other nations have already successfully implemented this public health measure. This welcome Scottish action would prevent a significant proportion of miscarriages, stillbirths and babies born with Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects (NTDs). It also has the benefit of being one inexpensive action that predictably will reduce health inequalities across Scotland.

Exactly how and when this change will happen is unknown at present, as is whether any major opposition will arise. Still, it seems important that you, as well as other key professionals, opinion leaders, politicians of all parties (and as many potential beneficiaries as possible) are knowledgeable about the facts behind this proposed action. This will allow a significant informal coalition to be on the same page in favouring this way of keeping some preventable harm from happening in the first place.

With thanks in advance for any efforts you make to help 'spread the word' and encourage support.

Dr Jonathan Sher
Independent Consultant
Edinburgh
Scotland

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