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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.
To examine the association between BMI and folate concentrations in serum and red blood cells (RBC) in pregnant women.
A cross-sectional comparison of folate concentrations in serum and RBC sampled simultaneously from the same individual.
The Ottawa Hospital and Kingston General Hospital, Ontario, Canada.
Pregnant women recruited between 12 and 20 weeks of gestation.
A total of 869 pregnant women recruited from April 2008 to April 2009 were included in the final analysis. Serum folate was inversely associated and RBC folate positively associated with BMI, after adjusting for folic acid supplementation, age, gestational age at blood sample collection, race, maternal education, annual income, smoking and MTHFR 677C→T genotype. In stratified analyses, this differential association was significant in women with the MTHFR CC variant. In women with the CT and TT variants, the differential associations were in the same direction but not significant. Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy did not alter the differential association of BMI with serum and RBC folate concentration. This indicates that the current RBC folate cut-off approach for assessing risk of neural tube defects in obese women may be limited.
BMI is inversely associated with serum folate and positively associated with RBC folate in pregnant women, especially for those with the MTHFR CC variant.
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