Worldwide periconceptional folic acid supplement use is recommended to prevent neural tube defects. This also stimulated research on maternal folate status in association with fetal growth, an important predictor of perinatal and future development and health. We provide an overview of literature on associations between maternal folate status during pregnancy determined by folate biomarker concentrations in blood, folic acid supplement use and dietary folate intake, and fetal growth parameters. Literature was searched in PubMed up to November 2011. Some studies suggest inverse associations between serum folate, folic acid supplement use and dietary folate intake and risk of a low birth weight or small for gestational age infant. The strongest evidence, however, revealed positive associations between birth weight and red blood cell folate, folic acid supplement use and dietary folate intake. Red blood cell folate appeared to be most consistently associated with other fetal growth parameters. These findings contribute to the knowledge of the impact of maternal folate status on fetal growth, and subsequently perinatal health and disease risks in later life. Future research is recommended to examine effects of windows, duration and dose of folic acid supplement use and use of folate-rich dietary patterns in different populations on fetal growth parameters.

Biomarkers, Folic acid, Growth, Nutrition, Pregnancy,
Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (Print)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Uitert, E.M, & Steegers-Theunissen, R.P.M. (2013). Influence of maternal folate status on human fetal growth parameters. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (Print), 57(4), 582–595. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201200084