Anemia and Vitamin B-12 and Folate Status in Women of Reproductive Age in Southern India: Estimating Population-Based Risk of Neural Tube Defects

Julia L Finkelstein, Amy Fothergill, Christina B Johnson, Heather M Guetterman, Beena Bose, Shameem Jabbar, Mindy Zhang, Christine M Pfeiffer, Yan Ping Qi, Charles E Rose, Jennifer L Williams, Wesley Bonam, Krista S Crider
Current Developments in Nutrition 2021, 5 (5): nzab069

Background: Women of reproductive age (WRA) are a high-risk population for anemia and micronutrient deficiencies. However, there are few representative population-level data from India, which could help inform evidence-based recommendations and policy.

Objective: To conduct a population-based biomarker survey of anemia and vitamin B-12 and folate status in WRA as part of a periconceptional surveillance program in southern India.

Methods: Participants were WRA (15-40 y) who were not pregnant or lactating. Whole blood ( n  = 979) was analyzed for hemoglobin via a Coulter counter (Coulter HMX). Plasma, serum, and RBCs were processed and stored at -80°C or less until batch analysis. Vitamin B-12 concentrations were measured via chemiluminescence; RBC and serum folate concentrations were evaluated via microbiological assay. Anemia and severe anemia were defined as hemoglobin <12.0 g/dL and <8.0 g/dL, respectively. Vitamin B-12 deficiency and insufficiency were defined as total vitamin B-12 <148 pmol/L and <221 pmol/L, respectively. Folate deficiency and insufficiency were defined as RBC folate <305 nmol/L and <748 nmol/L. A previously developed Bayesian model was used to predict neural tube defect (NTD) prevalence per 10,000 births.

Results: A total of 41.5% of WRA had anemia and 3.0% had severe anemia. A total of 48.3% of WRA had vitamin B-12 deficiency and 74.3% had vitamin B-12 insufficiency. The prevalence of RBC folate deficiency was 7.6%, and 79.3% of WRA had RBC folate <748 nmol/L, the threshold for optimal NTD prevention. Predicted NTD prevalence per 10,000 births based on RBC folate concentrations was 20.6 (95% uncertainty interval: 16.5-25.5).

Conclusions: The substantial burden of anemia, vitamin B-12 deficiency, and RBC folate insufficiency in WRA in this setting suggests an opportunity for anemia and birth defects prevention. Findings will directly inform the development of a randomized trial for anemia and birth defects prevention in southern India.This study was registered at as NCT04048330.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"