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The relationship between maternal folate status in pregnancy, cord blood folate levels, and allergic outcomes in early childhood


Dunstan, JA and West, C and McCarthy, S and Metcalfe, J and Meldrum, S and Oddy, WH and Tulic, MK and D'Vaz, N and Prescott, SL, The relationship between maternal folate status in pregnancy, cord blood folate levels, and allergic outcomes in early childhood, Allergy, 67, (1) pp. 50-57. ISSN 0105-4538 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2011.02714.x


BACKGROUND: Dietary changes may epigenetically modify fetal gene expression during critical periods of development to potentially influence disease susceptibility. This study examined whether maternal and/or fetal folate status in pregnancy is associated with infant allergic outcomes.

METHODS: Pregnant women (n=628) were recruited in the last trimester of pregnancy. Folate status determined by both food frequency questionnaires and folate levels in maternal and cord blood serum was examined in relation to infant allergic outcomes at 1 year of age (n=484).

RESULTS: Infants who developed allergic disease (namely eczema) did not show any differences in cord blood or maternal folate levels compared with children without disease. Although maternal folate intake from foods was also not different, folate derived from supplements was higher (P=0.017) in children with subsequent eczema. Furthermore, infants exposed to >500 μg folic acid/day as a supplement in utero were more likely to develop eczema than those taking <200 μg/day (OR [odds ratio] =1.85; 95% CI 1.14-3.02; P=0.013), remaining significant after adjustment for maternal allergy and other confounders. There was a nonlinear relationship between cord blood folate and sensitization, with folate levels <50 nmol/l (OR=3.02; 95% CI 1.16-7.87; P=0.024) and >75nmol/l (OR=3.59; 95% CI 1.40-9.20; P=0.008) associated with greater sensitization risk than levels between 50 and 75 nmol/l.

CONCLUSION: Fetal levels between 50 and 75 nmol/l appeared optimal for minimizing sensitization. While folate taken as a supplement in higher doses during the third trimester was associated with eczema, there was no effect on other allergic outcomes including sensitization. Further studies are needed to determine the significance of this.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:allergic disease, allergy, diet, diet supplements, eczema, epigenetics, folate, cord blood, infants, pregnancy
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Nutrition and dietetics
Research Field:Public health nutrition
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Preventive medicine
UTAS Author:Oddy, WH (Professor Wendy Oddy)
ID Code:108599
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:60
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-04-26
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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