Folate deficiency

Dr Daniel J Bell et al.

Folate deficiency (hypovitaminosis B9) is the most common vitamin deficiency in the Western world. It is especially important in pregnant women and common amongst alcoholics. 

Epidemiology

Deficiency arises in two distinct populations:

  1. increased demand (pregnancy and lactation)
  2. decreased absorption (alcoholism and chronic small bowel pathology)

Pathology

In adults and children folate deficiency may lead to megaloblastic anemia due to the reduced synthesis of DNA in the highly tetrahydrofolate (THF)-dependent stem cells of erythropoiesis.

Earlier in embryogenesis, formation of the neural tube is dependent on adequate levels of folate. Deficiency in this critical time is a well-known cause of neural tube defects and as such there may be a need for pregnant women (and women planning to conceive) to take folate supplementation.

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Article information

rID: 64121
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Hypovitaminosis B9

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