Vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation and plasma total homocysteine concentrations in pregnant Indian women with low B12 and high folate status.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010; 19(3):335-43AP
Maternal vitamin B12 deficiency and hyperhomocysteinemia predict poor pregnancy outcome, foetal adiposity and insulin resistance. In India amongst practicing clinicians and policy makers there is little appreciation of widespread vitamin B12 deficiency. We investigated 163 (86 rural, 77 urban) pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in a rural health centre and a referral hospital in the city of Pune, at 17, 28, and 34 weeks gestation for vitamin supplements, and circulating concentrations of vitamin B12, folate, and total homocysteine. At enrolment 80% rural and 65% urban women had low vitamin B12 but only two rural women had low folate concentrations. During pregnancy 85% rural and 95% of urban women received folic acid; 12% rural and 84% urban women also received vitamin B12. In women receiving no supplementation (n=17) plasma vitamin B12 and folate did not change from 17 to 34 weeks gestation, but homocysteine increased (p<0.05). Homocysteine concentrations at 34 weeks gestation in women receiving only folic acid (n=71, mean 8.4 (95% CI 7.8, 9.1) micromol/L) were comparable to the unsupplemented group (9.7 (7.3, 12.7), p=0.15), but women who received a total dose of >1000 microg of vitamin B12 up to 34 weeks (n=42, all with folic acid) had lower concentrations (6.7 (6.0, 7.4), p<0.001). Increasing dose of vitamin B12 (rs=-0.31, p=0.006) but not folic acid (rs=-0.19, p=0.11) was associated with lower plasma total homocysteine concentration. In vitamin B12 insufficient, folate replete pregnant women, vitamin B12 supplementation is associated with a reduction of plasma total homocysteine concentration in late pregnancy.