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      Effects and safety of periconceptional oral folate supplementation for preventing birth defects

      1 , 2 , 3 , 2

      Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group

      Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

      Wiley

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          Abstract

          It has been reported that neural tube defects (NTD) can be prevented with periconceptional folic acid supplementation. The effects of different doses, forms and schemes of folate supplementation for the prevention of other birth defects and maternal and infant outcomes are unclear.

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          Most cited references 167

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          Prevention of neural-tube defects with folic acid in China. China-U.S. Collaborative Project for Neural Tube Defect Prevention.

          Periconceptional administration of folic acid can reduce a woman's risk of having a fetus or infant with a neural-tube defect. As part of a public health campaign conducted from 1993 to 1995 in an area of China with high rates of neural-tube defects (the northern region) and one with low rates (the southern region), we evaluated the outcomes of pregnancy in women who were asked to take a pill containing 400 microg of folic acid alone daily from the time of their premarital examination until the end of their first trimester of pregnancy. Among the fetuses or infants of 130,142 women who took folic acid at any time before or during pregnancy and 117,689 women who had not taken folic acid, we identified 102 and 173, respectively, with neural-tube defects. Among the fetuses or infants of women who registered before their last menstrual period and who did not take any folic acid, the rates of neural-tube defects were 4.8 per 1000 pregnancies of at least 20 weeks' gestation in the northern region and 1.0 per 1000 in the southern region. Among the fetuses or infants of the women with periconceptional use of folic acid, the rates were 1.0 per 1000 in the northern region and 0.6 per 1000 in the southern region. The greatest reduction in risk occurred among the fetuses or infants of a subgroup of women in the northern region with periconceptional use who took folic acid pills more than 80 percent of the time (reduction in risk, 85 percent as compared with the fetuses or infants of women who registered before their last menstrual period and who took no folic acid; 95 percent confidence interval, 62 to 94 percent) [corrected]. In the southern region the reduction in risk among the fetuses or infants of women with periconceptional use of folic acid was also significant (reduction in risk, 41 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 3 to 64 percent). Periconceptional intake of 400 microg of folic acid daily can reduce the risk of neural-tube defects in areas with high rates of these defects and in areas with low rates.
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            A second common mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene: an additional risk factor for neural-tube defects?

            Recently, we showed that homozygosity for the common 677(C-->T) mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, causing thermolability of the enzyme, is a risk factor for neural-tube defects (NTDs). We now report on another mutation in the same gene, the 1298(A-->C) mutation, which changes a glutamate into an alanine residue. This mutation destroys an MboII recognition site and has an allele frequency of .33. This 1298(A-->C) mutation results in decreased MTHFR activity (one-way analysis of variance [ANOVA] P T) mutation. However, there appears to be an interaction between these two common mutations. When compared with heterozygosity for either the 677(C-->T) or 1298(A-->C) mutations, the combined heterozygosity for the 1298(A-->C) and 677(C-->T) mutations was associated with reduced MTHFR specific activity (ANOVA P T) mutation. This combined heterozygosity was observed in 28% (n =86) of the NTD patients compared with 20% (n =403) among controls, resulting in an odds ratio of 2.04 (95% confidence interval: .9-4.7). These data suggest that the combined heterozygosity for the two MTHFR common mutations accounts for a proportion of folate-related NTDs, which is not explained by homozygosity for the 677(C-->T) mutation, and can be an additional genetic risk factor for NTDs.
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              Reduction in neural-tube defects after folic acid fortification in Canada.

              In 1998, folic acid fortification of a large variety of cereal products became mandatory in Canada, a country where the prevalence of neural-tube defects was historically higher in the eastern provinces than in the western provinces. We assessed changes in the prevalence of neural-tube defects in Canada before and after food fortification with folic acid was implemented. The study population included live births, stillbirths, and terminations of pregnancies because of fetal anomalies among women residing in seven Canadian provinces from 1993 to 2002. On the basis of published results of testing of red-cell folate levels, the study period was divided into prefortification, partial-fortification, and full-fortification periods. We evaluated the relationship between baseline rates of neural-tube defects in each province and the magnitude of the decrease after fortification was implemented. A total of 2446 subjects with neural-tube defects were recorded among 1.9 million births. The prevalence of neural-tube defects decreased from 1.58 per 1000 births before fortification to 0.86 per 1000 births during the full-fortification period, a 46% reduction (95% confidence interval, 40 to 51). The magnitude of the decrease was proportional to the prefortification baseline rate in each province, and geographical differences almost disappeared after fortification began. The observed reduction in rate was greater for spina bifida (a decrease of 53%) than for anencephaly and encephalocele (decreases of 38% and 31%, respectively). Food fortification with folic acid was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of neural-tube defects in Canada. The decrease was greatest in areas in which the baseline rate was high. Copyright 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                146518
                Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
                Wiley
                14651858
                December 14 2015
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Micronutrient Initiative; Research and Evaluation; 180 Elgin Street, Suite 1000 Ottawa ON Canada K2P 2K3
                [2 ]World Health Organization; Evidence and Programme Guidance, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development; 20 Avenue Appia Geneva Switzerland 1211
                [3 ]Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública; Av. Universidad No. 655 Cuernavaca Morelos Mexico
                Article
                10.1002/14651858.CD007950.pub3
                26662928
                © 2015
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