Obesity affects short-term folate pharmacokinetics in women of childbearing age

V. R. Da Silva, D. B. Hausman, G. P.A. Kauwell, A. Sokolow, R. L. Tackett, S. L. Rathbun, L. B. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Maternal folate status and body mass index (BMI) are independent risk factors for neural tube defects (NTD). Population-based studies have identified an inverse association between serum folate and BMI, after adjusting for intake. The objective of this intervention study was to compare the relationship between BMI and the short-term pharmacokinetic response to an oral dose of folic acid. Healthy obese (BMI ≥30.0 kg m-2; n=16) and normal-weight (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg m-2; n=16) women of childbearing age (18-35 years) were administered a single oral dose of folic acid (400 μg). Blood samples were collected over a 10-h period to evaluate the serum folate response. Fasting baseline serum folate was lower in the obese group (P=0.005); in contrast, red blood cell folate was higher (P=0.05). Area-under-the-curve for the absorption phase (0-3 h) and peak serum folate concentrations were lower in obese versus normal-weight women (P<0.005). Overall serum folate response (0-10 h) was lower in obese versus normal-weight women (repeated-measures ANOVA, P=0.001). Data suggest body distribution of folate is significantly affected by obesity, and, should pregnancy occur, may reduce the amount of folate available to the developing embryo. These findings provide additional support for a BMI-adjusted folic acid intake recommendation for NTD risk reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1608-1610
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • folate
  • maternal obesity
  • neural tube defects
  • pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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