Pre-conceptional Maternal Vitamin B12 Supplementation Improves Offspring Neurodevelopment at 2 Years of Age: PRIYA Trial

Front Pediatr. 2021 Dec 7;9:755977. doi: 10.3389/fped.2021.755977. eCollection 2021.


Background: The first thousand days window does not include the pre-conceptional period. Maternal pre-conceptional health has a profound influence on early embryonic development (implantation, gastrulation, placentation etc). Nutrition provided by B-complex vitamins is important for fetal growth, especially neural development. We report effects of a maternal pre-conceptional vitamin B12 and multi micronutrient (MMN) supplementation on offspring neurodevelopmental performance. Methods: In the Pune Rural Intervention in Young Adolescents trial (PRIYA), adolescents (N = 557, 226 females) were provided with vitamin B12 (2 μg/day) with or without multiple micronutrients, or a placebo, from preconception until delivery. All groups received mandatory iron and folic acid. We used the Bayley's Scale of Infant Development (BSID-III) at 24-42 months of age to investigate effects on offspring neurodevelopment. Results: Participants had similar baseline B12 levels. The levels improved in the B12 supplemented groups during pre-conception and pregnancy (28 weeks gestation), and were reflected in higher cord blood holotranscobalamin (holo-TC) levels compared to the placebo group. Neurodevelopmental outcomes in the B12 alone group (n = 21) were better than the placebo (n = 27) in cognition (p = 0.044) and language (p = 0.020) domains (adjusted for maternal baseline B12 levels). There was no difference in neurodevelopmental outcomes between the B12 + MMN (n = 26) and placebo group. Cord blood Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels were highest in the B12 alone group, though not significant. Conclusion: Pre-conceptional vitamin B12 supplementation improved maternal B12 status and offspring neurodevelopment at 2 years of age. The usefulness of cord BDNF as a marker of brain development needs further investigation. Our results highlight the importance of intervening during pre-conception.

Keywords: neurodevelopmental outcome; offspring; pre-conception; supplementation; vitamin B12.