Vitamin B12 status of pregnant Indian women and cognitive function in their 9-year-old children

Food Nutr Bull. 2008 Dec;29(4):249-54. doi: 10.1177/156482650802900401.


Background: Recent research has highlighted the influence of maternal factors on the health of the offspring. Intrauterine experiences may program metabolic, cardiovascular, and psychiatric disorders. We have shown that maternal vitamin B12 status affects adiposity and insulin resistance in the child. Vitamin B12 is important for brain development and function.

Objective: We investigated the relationship between maternal plasma vitamin B12 status during pregnancy and the child's cognitive function at 9 years of age.

Methods: We studied children born in the Pune Maternal Nutrition Study. Two groups of children were selected on the basis of maternal plasma vitamin B12 concentration at 28 weeks of gestation: group 1 (n = 49) included children of mothers with low plasma vitamin B12 (lowest decile, < 77 pM) and group 2 (n = 59) children of mothers with high plasma vitamin B12 (highest decile, > 224 pM).

Results: Children from group 1 performed more slowly than those from group 2 on the Color Trail A test (sustained attention, 182 vs. 159 seconds; p < .05) and the Digit Span Backward test (short-term memory, p < .05), after appropriate adjustment for confounders. There were no differences between group 1 and group 2 on other tests of cognitive function (intelligence, visual agnosia).

Conclusions: Maternal vitamin B12 status in pregnancy influences cognitive function in offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood*


  • Vitamin B 12