The Relationship between Maternal Folate Levels and Predictive Child Obesity

The Relationship between Maternal Folate Levels and Predictive Child Obesity

Maternal folate

Maternal folate

To help reduce the risk of childhood obesity, maternal folate levels play a significant role. This is more so the case for children that are born to mothers that are suffering from obesity. But what happens when the maternal folate levels are not sufficient? A recently conducted research aimed at answering the question.

In the study, researchers attempted to understand the association between maternal plasma folate level concentrations and child obesity especially in mothers that are also suffering from obesity. The study was also aimed at better understanding the benefit of sufficient folate concentration in expectant mothers.

The researchers analyzed 1,517 mothers most of whom were from the Boston area. It is safe to say that the researchers primarily sampled a predominantly urban, low-income and a minority population. The participants were recruited from 1998 at birth to 2012. They were also followed up from birth all the way to when they were nine years old hence lasting the project to 2014.

For the study to work, the researchers required to have complete data on the maternal folate concentrations and the BMIs of the mothers and also needed the inclusion of mother-child pairs which also required a single post-natal visit for kids beyond 2 years of age. The data collected for the period of the study was grouped into three classes. There was the normal weight class that covered women weighing about 18.5-24.9kg/m2. There was the overweight class between 25-29.9kg/m2 and lastly the obese class of ≥30kg/m2. For more precise results, maternal folate concentrations were collected two days after delivery and were used as a surrogate marker to indicate the levels of folate in the third trimester.

To get the coloration between the concentration of folate and the BMI, the researchers calculated the child BMI z score using the US reference data and the BMI defined as the 85th percentile. It could be higher depending on the sex and age of the child. To get an even better grip on the coloration of the two factors, the investigators sort to draw out a graph. The results were an L-shaped association which was more or less what was expected hypothetically.

Generally, the association was non-linear and inverse which meant that the children at the highest risk were those born of mothers that had the lowest folate levels. However, having significantly higher levels of folate did not prove to have any added benefits to the mother or the child.

Also, children born of obese mothers but who had sufficient folate levels were found to be at a 43% lower risk of suffering from obesity compared to children born of obese mothers and with low folate concentration.

Ultimately, the results of this study go to prove that maternal and prenatal nutrition plays a significant role in metabolic disorders of the child which emphasizes the need for mothers to take proper care of themselves to mitigate risks suffered by their unborn as a result of their own doing or lack thereof.

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