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Low plasma vitamin B-12 is associated with a lower pregnancy-associated rise in plasma free choline in Canadian pregnant women and lower postnatal growth rates in their male infants

Background: Choline needs are increased in pregnancy. Choline can be used as a source of methyl for homocysteine remethylation to methionine, but choline synthesis requires methyls from methionine. Vitamin B-12 deficiency increases choline use for homocysteine methylation.

Objectives: We investigated whether poor vitamin B-12 status occurs and contributes to low plasma choline and altered biomarkers of choline synthesis in pregnant women. With the use of a post hoc analysis, we addressed the association of maternal plasma vitamin B-12 status with postnatal growth rates in term infants.

Design: Blood was analyzed for a prospective study of 264 and 220 pregnant women at 16 and 36 wk of gestation, respectively, and 88 nonpregnant women as a reference.

Results: The proportion of women with a plasma total vitamin B-12 concentration <148 pmol/L (deficient) or 148-220 pmol/L (marginal) increased with pregnancy and pregnancy duration, which affected 3% and 9% of nonpregnant women, 10% and 21% of women at 16 wk of gestation, and 23% and 35% of women at 36 wk of gestation, respectively. Plasma free choline, betaine, and dimethylglycine were lower in women at 36 wk of gestation with a deficient or marginal compared with sufficient plasma total vitamin B-12 concentration (>220 pmol/L). Plasma total vitamin B-12 was positively associated with the increase in plasma free choline from midgestation to late gestation (P < 0.001). The postnatal growth rate to 9 mo was lower in infant boys of women classified as total vitamin B-12 deficient compared with sufficient.

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Carolyn Ledowsky

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