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Maternal betaine status, but not that of choline or methionine, is inversely associated with infant birth weight

  • Yu-Feng Du (a1), Yuan Wei (a2), Jing Yang (a2), Zi-Yi Cheng (a2), Xi-Fang Zuo (a3), Tian-Chen Wu (a1), Hui-Feng Shi (a1) and Xiao-Li Wang (a1)...


Maternal one-carbon metabolism during pregnancy is crucial for fetal development and programming by DNA methylation. However, evidence on one-carbon biomarkers other than folate is lacking. We, therefore, investigated whether maternal plasma methyl donors, that is, choline, betaine and methionine, are associated with birth outcomes. Blood samples were obtained from 115 women during gestation (median 26·3 weeks, 90 % range 22·7–33·0 weeks). Plasma choline, betaine, methionine and dimethylglycine were measured using HPLC-tandem MS. Multivariate linear and logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between plasma biomarkers and birth weight, birth length, the risk of small-for-gestational-age and large-for-gestational-age (LGA). Higher level of maternal betaine was associated with lower birth weight (–130·3 (95 % CI –244·8, –15·9) per 1 sd increment for log-transformed betaine). Higher maternal methionine was associated with lower risk of LGA, and adjusted OR, with 95 % CI for 1 sd increase in methionine concentration was 0·44 (95 % CI 0·21, 0·89). Stratified analyses according to infant sex or maternal plasma homocysteine status showed that reduction in birth weight in relation to maternal betaine was only limited to male infants or to who had higher maternal homocysteine status (≥5·1 µmol/l). Higher maternal betaine status was associated with reduced birth weight. Maternal methionine was inversely associated with LGA risk. These findings are needed to be replicated in future larger studies.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Professor X.-L. Wang, fax +86 10 62023133, email


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