HEALTH chiefs will add folic acid into flour to slash the rate of brain damage in babies.

Ministers have ironed out plans to add 250 micrograms of the supplement into every 100g of white flour used in the UK.

It means an average loaf of bread would contain 1,250mcg – around 60 to 80mcg per slice.

Women are urged to take at least 400mcg of folic acid per day when they are trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, which are deformities in the brain and spine, in their babies.

They are not expected to get the whole amount from food if the plan goes through and should still take supplements.

But the boost could prevent 20 per cent of conditions such as spina bifida, ministers hope – hundreds of cases per year.

Public health minister Maggie Throup said: “This simple step will ensure more women who might be pregnant, or who are trying to conceive, will have increased intakes of folic acid.

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"This will lead to a large reduction in the number of foetuses affected by neural tube defects each year.”

Women can get folate naturally from foods including green vegetables, beans, wholemeal flour and fortified cereals.

The NHS advises mums-to-be and women trying to get pregnant to take supplements to make sure they get enough.

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Ministers hope adding folic acid to flour will offer extra protection for unplanned pregnancies.

An official consultation on the plan will run until November.

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