Folate, vitamin B12 and total homocysteine levels in neonates from Brazil.

Research paper by F D FD Couto, L M O LM Moreira, D B DB Dos Santos, M G MG Reis, M S MS Gonçalves

Indexed on: 22 Sep '06Published on: 22 Sep '06Published in: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition


To determine folates, vitamin B12 and total homocysteine levels among neonates from mothers of low or high socioeconomic status.We carried out a cross-sectional transversal study comprising 143 neonates from two maternity hospitals in the city of Salvador, Northeast of Brazil. Cord blood samples were obtained at the time of delivery from newborns from low (group 1, n=77) or high (group 2, n=66) socioeconomic status. The vitamin B12 and folates were analyzed by electrochemiluminescence immunoassay and by a competitive test using a natural folate-binding protein (FBP), respectively. Total homocyteine levels were measured by fluorescence polarization immunoassay. Maternal environmental risk factors for pregnancy complications were obtained from all mothers.Only 2% of women from group 1 received prenatal care/vitamin supplementation, whereas almost all mothers from group 2 (96%) were properly followed. Anemia and/or infections pre- or during pregnancy was more prevalent among mothers of babies from group 1. Folate levels among newborns from group 1 and 2 were 7.38+/-2.71 and 8.83+/-4.06 ng/ml, respectively. No difference in the vitamin B12 levels was determined between groups. In addition, tHcy serum levels were higher among newborns from group 1 compared to those from group 2 (8.54+/-4.06 vs 6.35+/-1.33 micromol/l, respectively; P=0.005).These results demonstrate that unprivileged young woman has limited accesses to prenatal care, present high-risk factors that hamper both maternal and newborn health. Maternal and newborn health status could be improved by simply reinforcing the use of folate-enriched diet. The work presented illustrates the challenges that developing countries have to face in order to provide preventive adequate health care to the population at large.