3771531896_cf32859c7b_zA National Institute of Health study helps to identify the best dosage of Folic Acid for pregnant women, especially those who are obese.

Maternal nutrition during pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on child health…” —Xiaobin Wang, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

Obesity in children and adults is a serious health issue in the United States. During pregnancy, maternal obesity increases the risk of stillbirth, birth defects and preterm birth. Babies born to obese mothers have a higher risk of obesity in childhood.

Folate (Folic Acid), an essential B vitamin,  that reduces the risks malformations affecting the brain, spine and spinal cord, such as Spina Bifida. Currently the recommended dosage of folic Acid is 400 micrograms daily.

Researchers investigated the health outcomes of mothers and children (ranging from 2- to 9-years-old) in the Boston Birth Cohort, which is a a predominately low-income, minority population with a high incidence of maternal and child obesity.

The study found that the lowest levels of folate correlated with the highest risk of child obesity.  Obese mothers in the study tended to have lower folate levels than normal weight mothers.

  • They also found that children of obese mothers with adequate folate levels had a 43 percent lower risk of obesity compared to children of obese mothers with lower folate levels.
  • The best way to identify if you are taking enough Folic Acid is to ask your doctor to do lab work to make sure your folate (Folic Acid) levels are at least 20 nm/L.

Cuilin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., NICHD senior investigator and a study co-author, said. “This study uncovers what may be an additional benefit of folate and identifies a possible strategy for reducing childhood obesity.”

The study was published online in JAMA Pediatrics:

Wang G, Hu FB, Mistry KB, Zhang C, Ren F, Huo Y, Paige D, Bartell T, Hong X, Caruso D, Ji Z, Chen Z, Ji Y, Pearson C, Ji H, Zuckerman B, Cheng TL, and Wang X. Associations of maternal prepregnancy BMI and plasma folate concentrations with child metabolic health. JAMA Pediatrics DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0845 (2016).

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