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Vitamin B12 and folate during pregnancy and offspring motor, mental and social development at 2 years of age

  • V. K. Bhate (a1), S. M. Joshi (a1), R. S. Ladkat (a1), U. S. Deshmukh (a1), H. G. Lubree (a1), P. A. Katre (a2), D. S. Bhat (a1), E. C. Rush (a3) and C. S. Yajnik (a1)...


Insufficiency of vitamin B12 (B12) and folate during pregnancy can result in low concentrations in the fetus and have adverse effects on brain development. We investigated the relationship between maternal B12 and folate nutrition during pregnancy and offspring motor, mental and social development at two years of age (2 y). Mothers (n = 123) and their offspring (62 girls, 61 boys) from rural and middle-class urban communities in and around Pune city were followed through pregnancy up to 2 y. Maternal B12 and folate concentrations were measured at 28 and 34 weeks of gestation. At 2 y, the Developmental Assessment Scale for Indian Infants was used to determine motor and mental developmental quotients and the Vineland Social Maturity Scale for the social developmental quotient. Overall, 62% of the mothers had low B12 levels (<150 pmol/l) and one mother was folate deficient during pregnancy. Maternal B12 at 28 and 34 weeks of gestation was associated with offspring B12 at 2 y (r = 0.29, r = 0.32, P < 0.001), but folate was not associated with offspring folate. At 2 y, motor development was associated with maternal folate at 28 and 34 weeks of gestation. Mental and social development quotients were associated positively with head circumference and negatively with birth weight. In addition, pregnancy B12 and folate were positively associated with mental and social development quotients. Maternal B12 and folate during intrauterine life may favorably influence brain development and function. Pregnancy provides a window of opportunity to enhance fetal psychomotor (motor and mental) development.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Prof. C. S. Yajnik, Director, Diabetes Unit, KEM Hospital, Rasta Peth, Pune 411011, India. (Email


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