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E. Serious Birth Defects Prevented by Folic Acid-fortified Foods

Narrator: This is Science Today. Three years ago, the Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers to begin fortifying food with folic acid, a B vitamin, which prevents serious birth defects in which the fetal brain and spine are malformed. Dr. Patrick Romano of the University of California, Davis, found that folic acid fortification could potentially save millions of dollars in medical costs. But Romano admits it would be best to improve the American diet overall.

Romano: If we could really change the American diet and get people eating more fresh vegetables that have fiber, have folic acid, as well as other vitamins in them, then we could prevent not just neural tube defects, but also some cases of breast cancer, some cases of colon cancer, some cases of heart disease. So the potential health benefits would be enormous.

Narrator: But it seems that's easier said than done.

Romano: People have been telling us for years that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. And yet, we've seen very little change in the American diet.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.