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Vitamin B9 (folate) in pregnancy and breastfeeding 

Vitamin B9 (folate) in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Chapter:
Vitamin B9 (folate) in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Author(s):

Sir Peter Gluckman

, Mark Hanson

, Chong Yap Seng

, and Anne Bardsley

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198722700.003.0012
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date: 21 October 2019

Folate is a coenzyme in multiple biochemical pathways involving one-carbon metabolism, including amino acid metabolism, DNA and RNA synthesis, homocysteine metabolism, and methylation of DNA. The most overt consequence of folate deficiency is megaloblastic anaemia caused by the inhibition of DNA synthesis in red blood cell production. Folate deficiency may also influence the ability to maintain DNA methylation patterns in replicating cells, resulting in lasting phenotypic changes. Embryogenesis and fetal growth require higher levels of folate, which must be supplied maternally during pregnancy. A link between low maternal folate levels and the occurrence of neural tube defects has long been recognized. Other effects in pregnancy include increased risks of pre-eclampsia and placental vascular disorders. The general recommendation is for supplementation prior to conception and throughout pregnancy with 400 #amp;#x03BC;g of folic acid in tablet form, in addition to dietary sources, which can reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

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