Tissue deficiency of folic acid, as measured by a red cell folate level below 150 ng. per milliliter, was present in 16 per cent of 110 sequential pregnant women at the time of their first prenatal visit to a municipal clinic. A further 14 per cent of subjects had red cell folate levels in the range "suggestive but not conclusive for tissue folate depletion" (150 to 199 ng. per milliliter). All of the subjects were from low-income families in New York City and most were black or of Puerto Rican origin. Serum folate levels showed good general correlation with red cell folate but were of less value as a diagnostic test, since they were below the lower limit of normal in 64 per cent of subjects, including many subjects who did not yet have low tissue folate. In contrast to their value in other folate deficiency states, neutrophil lobe counts showed no correlation with serum or red cell folate levels in pregnancy and thus appeared of little diagnostic value in pregnancy. It is suggested that surveys of folate deficiency in other pregnant population groups in the United States be carried out. These results support the recommendations of the Committee on Maternal Nutrition1 and the Committee on Dietary Allowances of the Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council (U. S. A.)2 that folic acid supplements (200 to 400 μg per day) should be taken throughout pregnancy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology