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Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;61(1):7-14. doi: 10.1159/000338473. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Reduced folate, increased vitamin B(12) and homocysteine concentrations in women delivering preterm.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Medicine, Interactive Research School for Health Affairs, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune, India.



Maternal nutrition is an important determinant of the duration of pregnancy and fetal growth, and thereby influences pregnancy outcome. Folic acid and vitamin B(12) are involved in one-carbon metabolism and are reported to underlie intrauterine programming of adult diseases.


In the present study, the levels of folate, vitamin B(12) and homocysteine were measured in mothers delivering preterm (PT; gestation <37 weeks; n = 67), those delivering preterm due to preeclampsia (PT-PE; n = 49) and women delivering at term (control group; n = 76).


Increased vitamin B(12) and homocysteine levels (p < 0.05 for both) were seen in the PT-PE and PT groups as compared to the controls. In addition, reduced folate levels (p < 0.05) were observed in the PT group. A negative association of maternal plasma homocysteine with birth weight was seen in the idiopathic preterm group.


Altered maternal micronutrients and resultant increased homocysteine concentrations exist in women delivering preterm. These alterations may also be partly associated with other factors such as undiagnosed inflammatory conditions or inadequate placentation in some women. Since these micronutrients play an important role in epigenetic regulation of vital genes involved in the fetal programming of adult diseases, further studies need to be undertaken to understand their role in preterm deliveries.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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