Homocysteine concentration, related B vitamins, and betaine in pregnant women recruited to the Seychelles Child Development Study

Julie Wallace, Maxine P Bonham, JJ Strain, E. M Duffy, Paula J Robson, Mary Ward, Helene McNulty, Philip W Davidson, Gary J Myers, Conrad F Shamlaye, Tom W Clarkson, Anne M Molloy, John M Scott, Per M Ueland

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Abstract

Background: Both folate and betaine are important predictors of total homocysteine (tHcy) during pregnancy. However, studies to date have only been undertaken in populations with Western dietary patterns. Objective: We investigated the predictors of tHcy in pregnant women recruited in the Seychelles, a population where access to fortified foods is limited and where women habitually consume diets rich in fish, eggs, rice, and fruit. Design: Pregnant women (n = 226) provided blood samples at enrollment, at week 28 of gestation, and at delivery. Cord blood was obtained from a subset of participants (n = 135). Results: As in other studies, maternal tHcy was lower during pregnancy than at delivery, whereas folate and vitamin B-12 status declined significantly to delivery. Despite low maternal folate status at delivery (median: 9.0 nmol/L), with 35% of women in the deficient range (serum folate: <6.8 nmol/L), cord blood folate status (median: 40.2 nmol/L) was similar to concentrations reported in Western populations. Folate was a significant predictor of tHcy at all time points (P < 0.001). In contrast with previous studies, betaine was only a significant predictor of maternal tHcy (P < 0.001) when the essential amino acid methionine was low. Conclusions: The current study reports 2 important findings. First, fetal requirements for folate are paramount, such that cord blood folate status is maintained, even when maternal status is low. Second, betaine is a significant predictor of tHcy in pregnant women with low serum folate and low serum methionine concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-397
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume87
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

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    Wallace, J., Bonham, M. P., Strain, JJ., Duffy, E. M., Robson, P. J., Ward, M., McNulty, H., Davidson, P. W., Myers, G. J., Shamlaye, C. F., Clarkson, T. W., Molloy, A. M., Scott, J. M., & Ueland, P. M. (2008). Homocysteine concentration, related B vitamins, and betaine in pregnant women recruited to the Seychelles Child Development Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(2), 391-397.