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.
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