Maternal folate status in early pregnancy and child emotional and behavioral problems: the Generation R Study

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Background: Maternal prenatal folate status has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, but the association with child emotional and behavioral problems is unclear. Objectives: We assessed the association of maternal folate status during pregnancy with child emotional and behavioral problems. Also, we examined whether any association between folate status and child problems is a consequence of maternal folic acid supplement use or variation in maternal MTHFR genotype. Design: Within a population-based cohort, we measured maternal plasma folate concentrations in early pregnancy and assessed folic acid supplement use by questionnaire. Mothers of European descent were genotyped for the MTHFR 677 C -> T polymorphism. Child emotional and behavioral problems were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist at 3 y in 3209 children. Results: Children of mothers with prenatal folate deficiency were at higher risk of emotional problems (OR: 1.57; 95% Cl: 1.03, 2.38) but not behavioral problems (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.64, 1.56) after adjustment for confounders. A higher risk of emotional problems was also found in children whose mothers started using folic acid supplements late or did not use supplements at all (OR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.14, 1.84) than in children whose mothers started periconceptionally. However, low plasma folate con Conclusion: Low maternal folate status during early pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of emotional problems in the offspring. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:1413-21.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1413-1421
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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