Deficiency of folic acid increases the risk for neural tube defects among newborn children and megaloblastic anaemia in the mother. The aim of this study was to make a survey of how midwives working in maternity health care, family planning guidance, and specialist prenatal care in a Swedish county inform women of childbearing age about folic acid. The questionnaire study showed that 79% of the midwives informed the women about folic acid. Usually, the women received information first when they asked for it and midwifes were less prone to inform young women about folic acid. 87% of the midwives felt that they did not know enough about folic acid. CONCLUSIONS: Midwives play an important role in information about the need of folic acid intake for women in childbearing age. Changes in local routines, guidelines and further education of midwifes would subsequently provide information about the importance of folic acid to women in childbearing age.
Plasma homocysteine has been reported to be useful in the evaluation of patients with suspected vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. In November 1998, Canada began its mandatory fortification of all flour, and some corn and rice products, with folic acid. We evaluated the status of folate and vitamin B12 in Ontario since this fortification program began, and also studied the role of plasma homocysteine in the assessment of vitamin B12 deficiency since that time.
A retrospective cross-sectional study design was performed using a community database of all Ontario samples analyzed by MDS Laboratories, a major provider of diagnostic laboratory services in Canada. All consecutive single-patient fasting samples for plasma homocysteine collected between January 1 and September 30, 1999 were included, as well as corresponding red cell folate and serum B12 concentrations. Data for serum folate were included when available. Descriptive statistics included the arithmetic and geometric means for each measure, as well as the lower and upper centile values. After excluding cases with a concomitant serum creatinine > 120 micromol/L or red cell folate 15 micromol/L did not discriminate between cobalamin concentrations below versus above 120 pmol/L (positive and negative predictive values 7.4% and 97.2%, respectively), nor did it discriminate "indeterminate" B12 levels between 120 and 150 pmol/L (positive and negative predictive values 6.3% and 94.0%, respectively).
In a large select group of Ontarians, serum and red cell folate concentrations appear to be higher than expected, possibly due to a recent national folate fortification programme; cobalamin levels are no higher than expected. Given our inability to detect mild B12 deficiency using such indicators as plasma homocysteine, and considering the substantial growth in the elderly segment of the Canadian population, occult cobalamin deficiency could become a common disorder. Accordingly, we recommend either consideration of the addition of vitamin B12 to the current folate fortification programme, and/or the development of better methods for the detection of cobalamin deficiency.
Folic acid intake during pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) and perhaps also oral facial clefts. Maternal autoantibodies to folate receptors can impair folic acid binding. We explored the relationship of these birth defects to inhibition of folic acid binding to folate receptor a (FRa), as well as possible effects of parental demographics or prenatal exposures.
We conducted a nested case-control study within the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. The study included mothers of children with an NTD (n = 11), cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CL/P, n= 72), or cleft palate only (CPO, n= 27), and randomly selected mothers of controls (n = 221). The inhibition of folic acid binding to FRa was measured in maternal plasma collected around 17 weeks of gestation. On the basis of prior literature, the maternal age, gravidity, education, smoking, periconception folic acid supplement use and milk consumption were considered as potential confounding factors.
There was an increased risk of NTDs with increased binding inhibition [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-1.8]. There was no increased risk of oral facial clefts from inhibited folic acid binding to FRa (CL/P aOR = 0.7, 95% CI 0.6-1.0; CPO aOR = 1.1, 95% CI 0.8-1.4). No association was seen between smoking, folate supplementation or other cofactors and inhibition of folic acid binding to FRa.
Inhibition of folic acid binding to FRa in maternal plasma collected during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of NTDs but not oral facial clefts.
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Pregnancy burdens maternal folate reserves. Postpartum restoration to normal folate values may take up to 1 year. Maternal folate deficiency during early pregnancy has been hypothesized as a cause of schizophrenia in the offspring. We investigated whether the risk of schizophrenia is increased in persons conceived shortly after another birth. A population-based cohort was established of 1.43 million persons born in Denmark between 1950 and 1983, yielding 17.6 million person-years of follow-up. Schizophrenia in cohort members (5095 cases) and their siblings and parents was identified by linkage with the Danish Psychiatric Case Register. Relative risks of schizophrenia were estimated by use of log-linear Poisson regression. As compared to intervals of 45 months and longer, the schizophrenia risk ratio was 1.14 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.97 to 1.35) for interbirth intervals of up to 15 months, 1.32 (95% CI, 1.12 to 1.56) for intervals of 15 to 17 months, 1.38 (95% CI, 1.18 to 1.61), for intervals of 18 to 20 months and 1.13 (95% CI, 1.00 to 1.29) for intervals of 21 to 26 months. Relative risks did not essentially change after adjustment for age, sex, calendar year of diagnosis, maternal and paternal age, history of mental illness in a parent or sibling, sibship size, place of birth, and distance to younger sibling. These results show an association between short birth intervals and schizophrenia in the offspring. Although maternal folate depletion may play a role in this association, we cannot rule out other explanations such as maternal stress during pregnancy and childhood infections.
The study of providing with vitamins of schoolchildren in Orenburg conducted in the spring of 1985-1986 has revealed decreased content of ascorbic acid in 92%, vitamin E in 62%, vitamin A in 39%, folic acid in 38%, vitamin B12 in 14% of the children, the incidence rate of vitamin deficiency among the children in the senior forms was higher as compared to that in the junior forms and in boys it was more frequent than in girls. Additional intake of multivitamin "Undevitum" by schoolchildren during 2-4 months led to a significant improvement of their providing with vitamins that was expressed in normal vitamin levels and elimination of cases of deep vitamin deficiency.
This article gives an overview over common physiological, lifestyle, and pathological conditions that may modulate the homocysteine status. The interplay of several environmental factors, including age, gender, nutrition, smoking, and coffee consumption and physical activity with commonly used drugs and prevalent diseases are described. In most cases, an abnormal homocysteine status is not caused by a single factor alone but often is the result of combined effects. We address these frequently found "clusters" of homocysteine-modulating factors. Finally, we give an overview of likely causes of hyperhomocysteinemia found in an authentic material. This material is based on 2462 routine measurements of plasma total homocysteine carried out at the Haukeland University Hospital. The data represent the total number of combined homocysteine and methylmalonic acid determinations, requested by general practitioners in Norway during February 1998.
Fortification of grain products with folic acid has been shown to significantly reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in Canada and elsewhere. However, the impact on non-NTD anomalies has not been well studied.
Using the Alberta Congenital Anomalies Surveillance System (ACASS), we examined changes in occurrence of select congenital anomalies where folic acid supplementation with multivitamins had previously been suggested to have an effect. Anomalies documented in the ACASS 1992-1996 (pre-fortification) were compared to 1999-2003 (post-fortification).
A significant decrease in spina bifida (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.36-0.73) and ostium secundum atrial septal defects (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.69-0.93) was evident, but there was a significant increase in obstructive defects of the renal pelvisand ureter (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.24-1.70), abdominal wall defects (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.04-1.88) and pyloric stenosis (OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.18-1.89).
Consistent with other studies, a 50% reduction in spina bifida was associated with the post-fortification time period. Supporting the possibility that folic acid fortification may play a role in preventing other birth defects, a 20% reduction in atrial septal defects was also associated. The increase in abdominal wall defects, most notably gastroschisis, is likely related to pre-existing increasing trends documented in several regions around the world. The increase in pyloric stenosis and obstructive urinary tract defects was not expected and any causal relationship with folic acid fortification remains unclear. Similar studies by other birth defects surveillance systems in Canada and elsewhere are needed to confirm these trends.
Canada introduced a mandatory folic acid food fortification program in November 1998. We investigated whether the rate of folate and vitamin B12 insufficiency among adults has changed since this mandatory fortification program was implemented.
We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study using a large Ontario laboratory database. We included all individuals who underwent evaluation of their serum folate, red cell folate and serum vitamin B12 between April 1, 1997 to July 31, 1998 (Period A), August 1, 1998 to January 30, 1999 (Period B) and February 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000 (Period C).
A total of 8,884 consecutive samples were analyzed during the period of study. Mean age was 57.4 years (SD 21.1), and 63.2% were female. The prevalence of serum folate insufficiency (below 3.4 nmol/L) fell from 0.52% in Period A to 0.22% in Period C [prevalence ratio (RR) 0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.18-0.93)]. The prevalence of red cell folate insufficiency (below 215 nmol/L) declined from 1.78% during Period A to 0.41% in Period C (RR 0.23, 95% CI 0.14-0.40). No significant difference was observed between periods in the prevalence of B12 insufficiency below 120 pmol/L (3.93% versus 3.11%, respectively; RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.62-1.01).
There has been a significant decline in the prevalence of folate, but not vitamin B12 insufficiency, following Canadian folic acid food fortification. These changes may have important implications for the prevention and detection of folate and vitamin B12 insufficiency, including identifying the benefits of folic acid food fortification and the need to further consider fortification or supplementation with vitamin B12.
Comment In: Can J Public Health. 2002 Jul-Aug;93(4):245-812154523
Comment In: Can J Public Health. 2003 Mar-Apr;94(2):15412675175
BACKGROUND: Plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) level is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) even among children. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the determinants and distributions of plasma tHcy levels and the relationship between plasma tHcy, folate and vitamin B12 levels among school children in Taipei. METHODS: After multi-stage sampling, we randomly selected 1234 school children (609 boys and 625 girls) with the mean age of 13 years (from 12 to 15 years) in this study. Fasting plasma tHcy levels were measured using an ABBOTT IMx analyzer (Axis Biochemicals ASA, Oslo, Norway). Plasma folate and vitamin B12 levels were measured by ACS:180 automated chemiluminescence analyzer (Bayer, Tarrytown, NY, USA). RESULTS: The distribution of plasma tHcy levels were skewed to the right with the mean values of 10.50 and 8.95 micromol/l and medians of 9.67 and 8.474 micromol/l for boys and girls, respectively. Plasma tHcy concentrations were lower in younger children and progressively increased with increasing age. Boys had significantly higher plasma tHcy levels than girls (10.50 +/- 4.134 vs. 8.95 +/- 2.61 micromol/l, p