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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
'I felt guilty over folic acid'
The Food Standards Agency is to recommend to ministers that folic acid be added to bread to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.

Kerry Hodson's daughter Emma, now three years old, was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. She explains why she is backing the decision.

Image of vitamin pills
Mrs Hodson had been taking extra folic acid

It was at the 20-week scan that Kerry Hodson and her husband, Ian, realised their baby had spina bifida.

The first question the radiographer asked her was: "Have you been taking folic acid?"

Mrs Hodson, from near York, said: "She was our first child, and we had been trying for a baby for a long time.

"I had folic acid in the cupboard, and I'd been taking it, but not all the time, although I took it from the moment I found out that I was pregnant at five weeks.

I'd been taking it, but not all the time
Kerry Hodson

"At first I felt quite guilty about it - but the consultant said that it was possible that folic acid wouldn't have made much difference, as the spina bifida was so severe."

The Hodsons were asked if they wanted a termination - 85% of spina bifida babies are aborted - but rejected the idea after seeing a scan of her sucking her thumb.

Operation threat

Emma had two operations within five days of being born - the first to close the hole in her spine, and then one to place a shunt into her head for her hydrocephalus.

Mrs Hodson said: "At first it was really difficult to cope with."

there are so many artificial things in food that no-one is worried about, and this causes no harm to anyone
Kerry Hodson

But she added: "She's three-and-a-half now and goes to an ordinary play school and able-bodied swimming classes - the only difference between her and the other children is that she can't walk, she's in a wheelchair.

"That's unlikely to change now as she grows up, she won't be able to walk.

"The only other issue is that some people with spina bifida can't feel their bowels, and Emma is still in nappies at the moment, so that might improve as she gets older."

Unsurprisingly, Mrs Hodson fully supports the decision to recommend bread is fortified with folic acid, saying it is a "great step forward".

"People have been talking about it for a long time, but now something's finally happening.

"I understand that some people are concerned about adding something like that to everyone's bread, but there are so many artificial things in food that no-one is worried about, and this causes no harm to anyone.

"I'm pregnant again at the moment - and I'm on a massive dose of folic acid this time."

Backing for folic acid in bread
17 May 07 |  Health
Folic acid 'should be in flour'
12 Dec 06 |  Health
Folic acid 'cuts dementia risk'
15 Aug 05 |  Health
Push to add folic acid to bread
05 Apr 06 |  Health

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