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Nutrients 2017, 9(2), 123; doi:10.3390/nu9020123

Maternal Folic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy and Childhood Allergic Disease Outcomes: A Question of Timing?

Department of Health Western Australia, Perth 6004, Western Australia, Australia
School of Paediatrics and Child Health, The University of Western Australia, Subiaco 6008, Western Australia, Australia
Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia, Subiaco 6008, Western Australia, Australia
Members of the in‐FLAME International Inflammation Network, Perth 6000, Western Australia, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 December 2016 / Accepted: 3 February 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Allergic Diseases)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [429 KB, uploaded 11 February 2017]   |  


Since the early 1990s, maternal folic acid supplementation has been recommended prior to and during the first trimester of pregnancy, to reduce the risk of infant neural tube defects. In addition, many countries have also implemented the folic acid fortification of staple foods, in order to promote sufficient intakes amongst women of a childbearing age, based on concerns surrounding variable dietary and supplementation practices. As many women continue to take folic acid supplements beyond the recommended first trimester, there has been an overall increase in folate intakes, particularly in countries with mandatory fortification. This has raised questions on the consequences for the developing fetus, given that folic acid, a methyl donor, has the potential to epigenetically modify gene expression. In animal studies, folic acid has been shown to promote an allergic phenotype in the offspring, through changes in DNA methylation. Human population studies have also described associations between folate status in pregnancy and the risk of subsequent childhood allergic disease. In this review, we address the question of whether ongoing maternal folic acid supplementation after neural tube closure, could be contributing to the rise in early life allergic diseases. View Full-Text
Keywords: allergic disease; epigenetics; folate; folic acid; maternal diet; pregnancy allergic disease; epigenetics; folate; folic acid; maternal diet; pregnancy

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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McStay, C.L.; Prescott, S.L.; Bower, C.; Palmer, D.J. Maternal Folic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy and Childhood Allergic Disease Outcomes: A Question of Timing? Nutrients 2017, 9, 123.

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