Vitamin B-12 and Perinatal Health

Adv Nutr. 2015 Sep 15;6(5):552-63. doi: 10.3945/an.115.008201. Print 2015 Sep.


Vitamin B-12 deficiency (<148 pmol/L) is associated with adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes, including developmental anomalies, spontaneous abortions, preeclampsia, and low birth weight (<2500 g). The importance of adequate vitamin B-12 status periconceptionally and during pregnancy cannot be overemphasized, given its fundamental role in neural myelination, brain development, and growth. Infants born to vitamin B-12-deficient women may be at increased risk of neural tube closure defects, and maternal vitamin B-12 insufficiency (<200 pmol/L) can impair infant growth, psychomotor function, and brain development, which may be irreversible. However, the underlying causal mechanisms are unknown. This review was conducted to examine the evidence that links maternal vitamin B-12 status and perinatal outcomes. Despite the high prevalence of vitamin B-12 deficiency and associated risk of pregnancy complications, few prospective studies and, to our knowledge, only 1 randomized trial have examined the effects of vitamin B-12 supplementation during pregnancy. The role of vitamin B-12 in the etiology of adverse perinatal outcomes needs to be elucidated to inform public health interventions.

Keywords: child health; cobalamin; one-carbon metabolism; pregnancy; vitamin B-12.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Perinatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin B 12