Homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12 and B6 in mothers of children with neural tube defects in Xinjiang, China

Acta Paediatr. 2012 Nov;101(11):e486-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02795.x. Epub 2012 Aug 24.


Aim: To investigate the maternal homocysteine (Hcy), folate, vitamin B(12) and B(6) , and their relations to neural tube defects (NTDs).

Methods: Thirty mothers of NTDs offspring and another 60 mothers of normal children were enrolled as the patient and control groups from Xinjiang, China, from January 2008 to May 2011. The plasma levels of Hcy, folate, vitamin B(12) and B(6) were measured and compared between the two groups.

Results: The morbidity of NTDs was 2.44% in Xinjiang. The Hcy was significantly higher in patient group than in control group (15.1 ± 7.8 vs. 8.5 ± 4.0 μmol/L, p < 0.001). The folate in patient group (9.7 ± 8.1 μg/L) was lower than in control group (15.0 ± 8.1 μg/L, p < 0.001). The vitamin B(12) was 181.3 ± 107.7 and 394.3 ± 386.3 ng/L in patient and control groups, respectively, with a significant difference (p < 0.001). The abnormal frequency of Hcy and vitamin B(12) was statistically different in two groups. The difference of vitamin B(6) between the patients and controls was marginal (48.7 ± 16.5 vs. 42.0 ± 10.5 mg/L, p = 0.051). Moreover, folate and vitamin B(12) levels were negatively correlated with Hcy while vitamin B(6) was positively correlated with Hcy. Positive correlation was observed between folate and vitamin B(12) levels.

Conclusion: Our data confirm that higher Hcy, lower folate and vitamin B(12) are risk factors for NTDs. Besides folate, vitamin B(12) should be supplied to decrease NTDs occurrence. Further study is required to investigate the levels and accurate role of vitamin B(6).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neural Tube Defects / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology*
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood*
  • Vitamin B 6 / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin B 6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12