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 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.
CONCLUSION: This study shows that maternal vitamin B-12 status is related to choline status in late gestation in a folate-replete population and may be a determinant of infant growth even in the absence of undernutrition.
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