Relationship between dietary folate intakes, maternal plasma total homocysteine and B-vitamins during pregnancy and fetal growth in Japan

Hidemi Takimoto*, Natsuko Mito, Keizo Umegaki, Asako Ishiwaki, Kaoru Kusama, Shiro Abe, MacHi Yamawaki, Hideoki Fukuoka, Chitaru Ohta, Nobuo Yoshiike

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Adequate folate status in pregnancy is important for satisfactory pregnancy outcome. Aim of the Study: The objective of the present study was to evaluate folate status in healthy pregnant women by assessing dietary folate intakes and measuring changes in folate-related biomarkers including plasma tHcy, serum vitamin B12 (B12), and serum and RBC folate concentrations in each trimester and to examine their relation to fetal growth. Methods: From 94 pregnant women, 3-day-dietary records were obtained and blood was collected for plasma total homocysteine (tHcy), serum B12, and serum and red-blood cell (RBC) folate measurements. Infant anthropometric measurements were made immediately after birth. Results: Average folate intake was less than 300 μg/day with a mean energy intake of about 1800 kcal. Mean serum and RBC folate concentrations declined significantly during gestation (p < 0.05). Mean serum B12 also significantly decreased (p < 0.01), whereas plasma tHcy increased from 5.1 in the first trimester to 5.9 μmol/l in the third trimester (p < 0.01). Multiple regression analyses, after controlling for maternal age, parity and pre-pregnancy body-mass index indicated that a 1.0 μmol/l increase in plasma tHcy in the third trimester corresponded to a 151 g decrease in birth weight (p < 0.01). Neither B12 nor folate concentrations in all three trimesters showed any significant associations with birthweight. Plasma pyridoxal-5′-phosphate concentrations were markedly low, and were consistent with low intake of vitamin B6 in our population. Conclusion: Our data suggest that higher plasma tHcy in the third trimester is a predictor of lower birth weight. In general, the dietary intake of B-vitamins and energy may be inadequate in our population, suggesting intervention is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Aug


  • Fetal growth
  • Folate
  • Homocysteine
  • Neonatal anthropometric measures
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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