Masa Flour Linked to Premature Birth

According to the March of Dimes, 24 percent of babies born prematurely in the United States come from Hispanic families. However, Hispanics only make up 17 percent of the country’s population. Researchers may have found the cause of these disproportionate statistics: masa flour, a corn flour used in many Hispanic dishes, lacks folic acid. Most other types of bread products are fortified with folic acid, a supplement linked to premature birth and birth defect prevention.

The March of Dimes is petitioning the US Food and Drug Administration to add folic acid to products containing masa flour in an attempt to curb the rate of premature birth in the Hispanic community. Babies born before reaching full-term are at risk for a number of potential injuries and health issues, including cerebral palsy, retinopathy of prematurity and respiratory conditions.

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