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Observational studies have linked elevated homocysteine to vascular conditions. Folate intake has been associated with lower homocysteine concentration, although randomised controlled trials of folic acid supplementation to decrease the incidence of vascular conditions have been inconclusive. We investigated determinants of maternal homocysteine during pregnancy, particularly in a folic acid-fortified population.
Data were from the Ottawa and Kingston Birth Cohort of 8085 participants. We used multivariable regression analyses to identify factors associated with maternal homocysteine, adjusted for gestational age at bloodwork. Continuous factors were modelled using restricted cubic splines. A subgroup analysis examined the modifying effect of MTHFR 677C>T genotype on folate, in determining homocysteine concentration.
Participants were recruited in Ottawa and Kingston, Canada, from 2002 to 2009.
Women were recruited when presenting for prenatal care in the early second trimester.
In 7587 participants, factors significantly associated with higher homocysteine concentration were nulliparous, smoking and chronic hypertension, while factors significantly associated with lower homocysteine concentration were non-Caucasian race, history of a placenta-mediated complication and folic acid supplementation. Maternal age and BMI demonstrated U-shaped associations. Folic acid supplementation of >1 mg/d during pregnancy did not substantially increase folate concentration. In the subgroup analysis, MTHFR 677C>T modified the effect of folate status on homocysteine concentration.
We identified determinants of maternal homocysteine relevant to the lowering of homocysteine in the post-folic acid fortification era, characterised by folate-replete populations. A focus on periconceptional folic acid supplementation and improving health status may form an effective approach to lower homocysteine.
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