PARMA, ITALY — The European Food Safety Authority’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies has approved a health claim related to supplemental folate intake and the reduced risk of neural tube defects, the E.F.S.A. said July 26.

According to the panel, scientific evidence supports the claim supplemental folate intake increases maternal folate status and increasing maternal folate status contributes to the reduction of the risk of neural tube defects. In order to obtain the claimed effect, women should consume 400 micrograms of supplemental folate daily for at least one month before and up to three months after conception, according to the panel. Rank Nutrition Ltd., Kent, United Kingdom, had applied for the Article 14 health claim on Feb. 25.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated fortification of enriched grains with folic acid in 1998. Since then, the number of babies born in the United States with neural tube birth defects has declined by about 36%.