WASHINGTON — The North American Millers’ Association has written the Food and Drug Administration in support of a petition to allow the fortification of corn masa flour with folic acid.

The letter from Mary Waters, president of NAMA, to Judith Rabaglia with F.D.A.’s Office of Food Additive Safety, was written in support of a petition by the Spina Bifida Association and five other petitioners to allow the fortification. Ms. Waters noted Hispanic women are 20% more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect than non-Hispanic women.

“While the reasons for the disparity are not fully understood, Hispanic women have been found to have a lower intake of folic acid overall compared to non-Hispanic women,” Ms. Waters said.

Since 1998, fortification of enriched cereals grains and pasta has been mandatory while corn masa flour has lacked federal regulatory approval for the addition of folic acid. Over this period, the rate of neural tube birth defects has fallen about one third. But Hispanics today have the highest rate when compared to other race or ethnic groups.

“Fortifying corn masa flour with folic acid is a simple and highly effective step in protecting the health of Hispanic children in the U.S. and the North American Millers’ Association strongly supports this public health effort,” Ms. Waters said.