Prenatal folate, homocysteine and vitamin B12 levels and child brain volumes, cognitive development and psychological functioning: the Generation R Study
Ars CL, Nijs IM, Marroun HE, Muetzel R, Schmidt M, Steenweg-de Graaff J, van der Lugt A, Jaddoe VW, Hofman A, Steegers EA, Verhulst FC, Tiemeier H, White T. (2016) Br J Nutr. Jan 22:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]
Previous studies have suggested that prenatal maternal folate deficiency is associated with reduced prenatalbrain growth and psychological problems in offspring. However, little is known about the longer-term impact.
The aims of this study were to investigate whether prenatal maternalfolate insufficiency, high total homocysteinelevels and low vitaminB12levels are associated with altered brain morphology, cognitive and/or psychological problems in school-aged children.
This study was embedded in Generation R, a prospective population-based cohort study. The study sample consisted of 256 Dutch children aged between 6 and 8 years from whom structural brain scans were collected using MRI. The mothers of sixty-two children had insufficient folate (9·1 µmol/l) and this predicted poorer performance on the language (B -0·31; 95 % CI -0·56, -0·06; P=0·014) and visuo-spatial domains (B -0·36; 95 % CI -0·60, -0·11; P=0·004). No associations with psychological problems were found.
Our findings suggest that folate insufficiency in early pregnancy has a long-lasting, global effect on brain development and is, together with homocysteinelevels, associated with poorer cognitive performance.
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