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Defining the plasma folate concentration associated with the red blood cell folate concentration threshold for optimal neural tube defects prevention: a population-based, randomized trial of folic acid supplementation



Defining the plasma folate concentration associated with the red blood cell folate concentration threshold for optimal neural tube defects prevention: a population-based, randomized trial of folic acid supplementation



American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 109(5): 1452-1461



Label="BACKGROUND">For women of reproductive age, a population-level red blood cell (RBC) folate concentration below the threshold 906 nmol/L or 400 ng/mL indicates folate insufficiency and suboptimal neural tube defect (NTD) prevention. A corresponding population plasma/serum folate concentration threshold for optimal NTD prevention has not been established.Label="OBJECTIVE">The aim of this study was to examine the association between plasma and RBC folate concentrations and estimated a population plasma folate insufficiency threshold (pf-IT) corresponding to the RBC folate insufficiency threshold (RBCf-IT) of 906 nmol/L.Label="METHODS">We analyzed data on women of reproductive age (n = 1673) who participated in a population-based, randomized folic acid supplementation trial in northern China. Of these women, 565 women with anemia and/or vitamin B-12 deficiency were ineligible for folic acid intervention (nonintervention group); the other 1108 received folic acid supplementation for 6 mo (intervention group). We developed a Bayesian linear model to estimate the pf-IT corresponding to RBCf-IT by time from supplementation initiation, folic acid dosage, methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genotype, body mass index (BMI), vitamin B-12 status, or anemia status.Label="RESULTS">Using plasma and RBC folate concentrations of the intervention group, the estimated median pf-IT was 25.5 nmol/L (95% credible interval: 24.6, 26.4). The median pf-ITs were similar between the baseline and postsupplementation samples (25.7 compared with 25.2 nmol/L) but differed moderately (±3-4 nmol/L) by MTHFR genotype and BMI. Using the full population-based baseline sample (intervention and nonintervention), the median pf-IT was higher for women with vitamin B-12 deficiency (34.6 nmol/L) and marginal deficiency (29.8 nmol/L) compared with the sufficient group (25.6 nmol/L).Label="CONCLUSIONS">The relation between RBC and plasma folate concentrations was modified by BMI and genotype and substantially by low plasma vitamin B-12. This suggests that the threshold of 25.5 nmol/L for optimal NTD prevention may be appropriate in populations with similar characteristics, but it should not be used in vitamin B-12 insufficient populations. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00207558.

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Accession: 066709782

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 31005964

DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz027


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