“Women from the poorest areas are less likely to take folic acid supplements and it is right that we do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in society,” Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said.
“We all want to give our children the best start in life and a birth defect diagnosis is devastating for parents.
“The simple measure of adding folic acid to flour would help spare hundreds of families from such a life-changing event.”
Shine chief executive Kate Steele said: “Had it been introduced all those  years ago, when the government’s own scientific advisory committee on nutrition made the recommendation, it is estimated that it could have saved several thousands of UK pregnancies from being affected by spina bifida or anencephaly.
“However, we are not looking a gift horse in the mouth and are delighted that the government has launched this consultation and all we hope is that it will not take another 25 years to make mandatory fortification with folic acid a reality.”