Fortification of foods with folic acid has been mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1998. While fortification has been shown to reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects by 31 percent, the authors of the study, “Childhood Cancer Incidence Trends in Association with U.S. Folic Acid Fortification (1986-2008)” in the June 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 21) investigated whether the same fortification has reduced the risk of childhood cancers. In studying data from 1986 to 2008 for 8,829 children ages birth to 4 years diagnosed with cancer, the authors found that folic acid fortification of foods may have reduced rates of Wilms tumors and possibly primitive neuroectodermal tumors in children. The authors, from the University of Minnesota and Washington University in St. Louis, conclude that alternative study designs are needed to confirm a causal relationship between the fortification of foods and cancer reduction rates.
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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. (www.aap.org)