Child Obesity and Maternal Folate Levels.

The link between child obesity and maternal folate levels.

Maternal Folate Level May Reduce Child Obesity Risk
NIH-funded study suggests an optimal level for pregnant women, particularly those who are obese.

Proper maternal folate levels during pregnancy may protect children from a future risk of obesity, especially those born to obese mothers, according to a study led by researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Proper maternal folate levels during pregnancy may protect children from a future risk of obesity says new NIH-funded study.
"Maternal nutrition during pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on child health, as well as the health of a mother after pregnancy," said the study's principal investigator, Xiaobin Wang, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. "Our results suggest that adequate maternal folate may mitigate the effect of a mother's obesity on her child's health."

The study, published online in JAMA Pediatrics, was funded by NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Obesity in children and adults is a serious health issue in the United States, contributing to such conditions as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. During pregnancy (link is external), maternal obesity also increases the risk for a range of pregnancy complications, such as stillbirth, birth defects and preterm birth. Furthermore, babies born to obese mothers have long-term health risks, including a higher risk of obesity in childhood.

Folate, an essential B vitamin, reduces the fetus' risk for neural tube defects, which are malformations affecting the brain, spine and spinal cord. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms of folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) daily to reduce their children's risk for neural tube defects. However, the role of maternal folate levels on a child's future obesity risk was not known, especially among those born to mothers who are obese during pregnancy.

In their study, the researchers investigated the health outcomes of mothers and children (ranging from 2- to 9-years-old) in the Boston Birth Cohort, a predominately low-income, minority population with a high prevalence of maternal and child obesity. The study team analyzed health records from more than 1,500 mother-child pairs, including information that was collected before, during and after pregnancy. To gauge a mother's folate level during pregnancy, the researchers measured folate from stored plasma samples that were collected two to three days after delivery.

The study team found a wide range of maternal folate levels, but observed an "L-shaped" relationship between maternal folate levels and child obesity. In other words, the lowest levels of folate correlated with the highest risk of child obesity. When folate levels reached approximately 20 nanomoles per liter (nm/L), which is within the normal range for adults, further increases in folate levels did not confer additional benefits, indicating a threshold or ceiling effect.

According to the researchers, this threshold is higher than the standard cutoff for diagnosing folate deficiency (less than 10 nm/L).

Obese mothers in the study tended to have lower folate levels than normal weight mothers. However, when the researchers examined obese mothers only, they found that children of obese mothers with adequate folate levels (at least 20 nm/L) had a 43 percent lower risk of obesity compared to children of obese mothers with lower folate (less than 20 nm/L). The children in the latter group had higher body mass index-for-age z-scores (BMI-z) - a measure of body fat in children.

According to the authors, establishing an "optimal" rather than "minimal" folate concentration may be beneficial for women planning a pregnancy, especially obese women.

"Folate is well-known for preventing brain and spinal cord defects in a developing fetus, but its effects on metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and obesity, is less understood," said Cuilin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., NICHD senior investigator and a study co-author. "This study uncovers what may be an additional benefit of folate and identifies a possible strategy for reducing childhood obesity."

The Boston Birth Cohort has been funded continuously by NICHD since 2002 (R01 HD041702, R01 HD086013). The cohort also received support from NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the March of Dimes.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit NICHD's website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Posted 7/1/16


Scheduled Events

  PSU Symphonic Band   (3/14)
  Fundraising Dinner & Auction   (3/15)
  Peter Wolf   (3/15)
  Ultralight Backpacking   (3/15)
  BMW xDrive Experience   (3/16-18)
  Peter and Jeremy   (3/16)
  Dinner & Wine Benefit   (3/16)
  Phil Vassar   (3/17)
  Zoe & Cloyd   (3/17)
  Tax Changes for Individuals   (3/19)
  Walkabout Youth Arts   (3/21)
  Climate Change & Ski Industry   (3/22)
  The Lion King, Jr.   (3/22 - 4/1)
  April Verch   (3/23)
  Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio   (3/23)
  Tom Petty Tribute   (3/23)
  Community Contra Dance   (3/24)
  Nashville Celts   (3/24)
  Symphony Orchestra   (3/24)
  Why Do Animals Do That?   (3/24)
  Matt Haimovitz   (3/28)
  Al Jardine   (3/29)
  All New England Jazz Festival   (3/29)
  Giselle   (3/30 & 31)
  Cosí Fan Tutte   (3/31 & 4/1)
  Squirrel Nut Zippers   (3/31)
  Hot Tuna   (3/31)
  Dido and Aeneas   (4/3)
  Silk Road Ensemble   (4/5)
  The Grateful Ball   (4/6)
  War and Peace   (4/6 & 7)
  Fred Marple   (4/7)
  Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes  (4/7)
  Piano Master Class   (4/8)
  Sally Pinkas   (4/10)
  Fine Arts Exhibit   (4/10)
  A Dream Play   (4/12-15)
  Daymé Arocena   (4/12)
  Climbing, & Conservation   (4/13)
  Jake Shimabukuro   (4/13)
  Tommy Emmanuel CGP  (4/13)
  Luisa Miller   (4/14-15)
  Artimus Pyle Band   (4/14)
  Swing North Big Band   (4/14)
  Celia Chen   (4/17)
  Heifetz on Tour   (4/18)
  Anthony Hudson   (4/19)
  The Pillowman   (4/19-29)
  PSU Playwrights' Showcase   (4/19-21)
  Carbon Leaf   (4/20)
  Leslie Odom, Jr.   (4/20)
  Ukulele Orchestra   (4/20)
  Murder Mystery Weekend   (4/20-22)
  Devon Allman Project   (4/21)
  Mountains to the Sea   (4/22)
  The Shape of Water   (4/23)
  Downsizing   (4/24)
  La Bohème   (4/24 & 25)
  Inon Barnatan   (4/25)
  Barbara Edelman   (4/26)
  Dance Ensemble & Choir   (4/27 & 28)
  Land of Trash  (4/27)
  Cendrillon   (4/28-29)
  Cold Chocolate   (4/28)
  Dartmouth Gospel Choir   (4/28)
  Leo Kottke   (4/28)
  New Repertory Theatre   (4/28)

 ◄ Expanded Calendar ►

Photo Galleries


Miss Berlin-Gorham Competition 2012 New England Brewfest 2014 RiverFire, Berlin, NH 2012 Sugar Hill Lupine Festival Gallery 2012 Bristol-Gorham Foliage
Quick Links


Business Directory



                      more ►  





  Clark's Trading Post
  Cog Railway
  Competition Complex
  Conway Scenic Railroad
  Jericho Mountain ATV Park
  Kancamagus Highway
  Littleton Riverwalk
  Lost River Gorge
  Mt. Washington Auto Road
  Polar Caves
  Santa's Village
  Six Gun City
  Vertical Ventures
  Whale's Tail Water Park
  Woodstock Inn & Brewery


more ►  


Community Profiles


  Bretton Woods
  North Conway
  Twin Mountain

more ►  


Recreation and Tourism


  Farm To Table Restaurants
  Hiking To Crash Sites
  Little Ski Areas
  Local Movie Theaters
  Local Performance Theaters


more ►  


Other Resources

  NH Cabins & Cottages
  NH Census Info
  NH Data (OEP)
  NH Fishing Reports
  NH Foliage Report
  NH Hiking Trail Conditions
  NH Lottery
  NH Movie Guide
  NH Road Conditions
  NH Ski Reports
  NH Snowmobile Trail Reports
  NH State Parks
  NH Town Officials Directory
  NH Weather
  White Mtn. National Forest




Copyright 2012-2018 by George C. Jobel, 603-491-4340. All Rights Reserved.