Maternal and fetal serum and red blood cell folate levels in pregnancies complicated by neural tube defects

Objective: to analyze maternal and fetal folate status in cases of neural tube defects (NTD). Methods: a case-control study was designed with 14 cases of fetuses with neural tube defects (study group) and 14 cases of fetuses with other unrelated malformations (control group) gestational age matched, in low-risk pregnant women. Both total and methylated folic acid levels in fetal and maternal compartments using serum and tissular (red blood cells) concentrations and also average corpuscular volume, hematocrit and hemoglobin levels were determined. Fetal and maternal samples were obtained immediately before termination of pregnancy. Results in both groups were compared using a gestational age paired t-test. Results: there were no statistically significant differences in fetal folate levels and fetal hematologic parameters between both groups However, both total (239.9 ng/mL in NTD against 399.1 ng/mL in control group, p=0.01) and methylated (201.9 ng/mL in NTD against 314.0 ng/mL in control group, p=0.02) maternal red blood cells folate levels were significantly lower in the neural tube defect group. Maternal serum folate levels were similar in study and control groups. Conclusion: this study showed that maternal red blood cell folate but not serum folate was significantly reduced in mothers of fetuses with neural tube defects.

Neural tube defects; Folic acid

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