Countries with obligatory fortification of food (USA, Canada) document a significant decrease of neural tube defects in newborns.
In this study the Daly or, respectively, the Wald method was employed for calculating the potential of fortification/and supplementation for prevention in Austria.
According to the EUROCAT study, in Austria the overall prevalence of neural tube defects (live birth, still births and induced abortions due to neural defect) is assumed to be 7.95 per 10,000 live and still births, and the prevalence of 3.9 per 10,000 live births - that is 62 or, respectively, 30 in absolute numbers per 78,000 births per year. In 2006, 26 live-born children with neural tube defects were actually reported in Austria by Statistik Austria.
Different folic acid fortification and supplementation strategies can avoid 1.2-1.4 per 10,000 (9-11 cases) of neural tube defects (live and still births). Folic acid supplements are effective to decrease the amount of neural tube defects, however, only when pregnancies are planned. Thus, evidence-based neural tube defects are more common among lower social groups. An obligatory fortification of food could therefore reach unplanned pregnancies and women facing social problems. A reason to justify this population-based intervention where people need not decide for themselves could be the reduction of social imbalances. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages of obligatory fortification of food and, therefore, all circumstances have to be taken into consideration.