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Maternal, Cord Blood Folate Not Tied to Childhood Eczema

But, infants exposed to >500 µg folic acid/day in third trimester have increased risk of eczema

THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal and cord blood serum folate levels are not significantly different between infants with and without eczema, but infants exposed to high doses of supplemental folic acid per day in the third trimester have an increased risk of eczema, according to a study published online Sept. 19 in Allergy.

Janet A. Dunstan, from the University of Western Australia in Perth, and colleagues investigated the association between maternal and/or fetal folate status in pregnancy and allergic outcomes in early childhood. Folate status was determined in 628 women in their last trimester of pregnancy from food-frequency questionnaires and maternal and cord-blood serum folate levels, and was assessed in relation to allergic outcomes in 484 1-year-olds.

The investigators found that cord blood and maternal folate levels did not differ between infants with or without eczema (allergic disease). Although maternal folate intake did not differ, mothers of children with eczema had significantly increased folate derived from supplements. Infants who were exposed in utero to more than 500 µg of supplemental folic acid/day had higher odds of developing eczema than those exposed to less than 200 µg/day (odds ratio [OR], 1.85), with the significant association persisting after adjusting for maternal allergy and other confounders. Infants with cord-blood folate levels less than 50 nmol/l and more than 75 nmol/l were more likely to be sensitized than those with levels between 50 and 75 nmol/l (OR, 3.02 and 3.59, respectively).

"Fetal levels between 50 and 75 nmol/l appeared optimal for minimizing sensitization. While folate taken as a supplement in higher doses during the third trimester was associated with eczema, there was no effect on other allergic outcomes including sensitization. Further studies are needed to determine the significance of this," the authors write.

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