Folate and cobalamin status in relation to breastfeeding and weaning in healthy infants.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Folate and cobalamin status changes markedly during infancy. OBJECTIVE We aimed to examine the influence of breastfeeding on folate and cobalamin status in healthy infants. DESIGN In a longitudinal study, we measured serum folate, cobalamin, holotranscobalamin, holohaptocorrin, methylmalonic acid, and homocysteine at birth and at ages 6, 12, and 24 mo (n = 361, 262, 244, and 224, respectively). Breastfeeding status and nutrient intake were assessed by using questionnaires and 7-d weighed-food records (at 12 mo). RESULTS All indexes changed significantly from birth to age 24 mo (P < 0.001). Folate was high until age 6 mo and then declined. At age 6 mo, folate was positively correlated with duration of exclusive breastfeeding (rho = 0.29; P < 0.001). Cobalamin status declined after birth in breastfed but increased in nonbreastfed infants. Thus, holotranscobalamin (pmol/L) was lower in breastfed than in nonbreastfed children at age 6 mo [geometric mean: 37 (95% CI: 33, 40) and 74 (64, 86), respectively], at 12 mo [51 (46, 56) and 76 (70, 82), respectively], and at 24 mo [65 (50, 83) and 90 (85, 97), respectively; P < 0.05 for all]. Complementary feeding did not increase (6 mo) or modestly increased (12 mo) cobalamin status in breastfed children. At 12 mo, cobalamin intake (microg/d), excluding breast milk cobalamin, was lower in breastfed than in nonbreastfed infants [geometric mean: 1.4 (1.3, 1.6) and 2.4 (2.1, 2.6), respectively; P < 0.001]. However, after adjustment for total cobalamin intake, cobalamin status (ie, holotranscobalamin) remained significantly lower in breastfed than in nonbreastfed infants [54 (49, 59) and 70 (64, 78), respectively; P < 0.001]. CONCLUSIONS Low cobalamin status is a characteristic finding in breastfed children. Reference limits according to age and breastfeeding status should be considered in early childhood.

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@article{Hay2008FolateAC, title={Folate and cobalamin status in relation to breastfeeding and weaning in healthy infants.}, author={Gry Hay and Carole Johnston and Andrew G L Whitelaw and Kerstin Ulla Trygg and Helga M. Refsum}, journal={The American journal of clinical nutrition}, year={2008}, volume={88 1}, pages={105-14} }