Association between maternal folate concentrations during pregnancy and insulin resistance in Indian children

Diabetologia. 2014 Jan;57(1):110-21. doi: 10.1007/s00125-013-3086-7. Epub 2013 Oct 26.


Aims/hypothesis: In an Indian birth cohort, higher maternal homocysteine concentration in pregnancy was associated with lower birthweight of the offspring. Lower maternal vitamin B12 and higher folate concentrations were associated with higher offspring insulin resistance. Disordered one-carbon metabolism during early development may increase later metabolic risk. We explored these associations in another birth cohort in India at three age points.

Methods: We measured plasma vitamin B12, folate and homocysteine concentrations at 30 ± 2 weeks' gestation in 654 women who delivered at one hospital. Neonatal anthropometry was recorded, and the children's glucose and insulin concentrations were measured at 5, 9.5 and 13.5 years of age. Insulin resistance was estimated using HOMA of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).

Results: Maternal homocysteine concentrations were inversely associated with all neonatal anthropometric measurements (p < 0.05), and positively associated with glucose concentrations in the children at 5 (30 min; p = 0.007) and 9.5 years of age (120 min; p = 0.02). Higher maternal folate concentrations were associated with higher HOMA-IR in the children at 9.5 (p = 0.03) and 13.5 years of age (p = 0.03). Maternal vitamin B12 concentrations were unrelated to offspring outcomes.

Conclusions/interpretation: Maternal vitamin B12 status did not predict insulin resistance in our cohort. However, associations of maternal homocysteine and folate concentrations with birth size, and with childhood insulin resistance and glycaemia in the offspring, suggest a role for nutritionally driven disturbances in one-carbon metabolism in fetal programming of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12