Longitudinal studies investigating vitamin B12 and folate status of mothers and their offspring will provide a better understanding of intergenerational nutrition. During pregnancy and 2 years (2y) after delivery, we measured plasma vitamin B12 and folate concentrations in 118 women [aged (mean ± s.d.) 22.9 ± 3.9y] who attended a rural (n = 68) or an urban (n = 50) antenatal clinic in Pune, India. Cord blood vitamin B12 and folate were measured, and when the child was 2y total homocysteine (tHcy) was also measured. Demographic and diet measurements were recorded using standard methods.
Pregnancy plasma vitamin B12 concentration at 34 weeks was low [median (25th, 75th), 115 (95, 147) pm]; 75% had low status (<150 pm). Plasma folate was high (mean ± s.d., 33 ± 21 nm); one had a folate concentration <7 pm. Cord plasma vitamin B12 and folate concentrations were higher than and positively associated with maternal concentrations. In stepwise regression, higher child vitamin B12 at 2y was predicted (total R2 15.7%) by pregnancy vitamin B12 (std β 0.201, R2 7.7%), current consumption of cow's milk (std β 0.194, R2 3.3%) and whether breast feeding was stopped before 2y (std β −0.234 R2 7.2%). Child's 2y tHcy concentration was high (11.4 ± 3.6 μm) and predicted by lower pregnancy vitamin B12 (std β −0.206, R2 4.1%), lack of vitamin supplementation (std β −0.256, R2 5.6%) in pregnancy and whether currently breastfed (std β 0.268, R2 8.4%).
Low maternal vitamin B12 status in pregnancy and prolonged breast-feeding results in disturbed one-carbon metabolism in offspring at 2y. Supplementation of women of child-bearing age, particularly during pregnancy and lactation, may improve the homocysteine status of these children.
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