Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Link between folic acid supplementation in pregnancy, DNA methylation and birth weight in newborn babies

Date:
December 6, 2010
Source:
Keele University
Summary:
Groundbreaking work by a team of UK scientists has identified, for the first time, a link between changes in the DNA of newborn babies, folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, and birth weight.

Groundbreaking work by a team of UK scientists has identified, for the first time, a link between changes in the DNA of newborn babies, folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, and birth weight.

Related Articles


This state-of-the-art 'epigenetic' study, from scientists at Keele and Nottingham Universities together with doctors at University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Derby Children's Hospital, led by Professor William Farrell, Professor of Human Genomics, Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine at the University of Keele, and funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, showed that the levels of a critical metabolite of folic acid, homocysteine, in the blood of newborn babies is linked to modifications of their DNA (DNA methylation) in key genes and that such modifications might be used to predict birth weight.

Supplementation with the vitamin, folic acid during pregnancy is known to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It also protects against low birth weight, which has numerous short- and long-term consequences. It has been suggested that folic acid, though its metabolism to chemicals such as homocysteine, might secure these clinical effects via DNA methylation.

Researchers in the Fetal Epigenomics Group examined the relationship between folic acid supplementation and its metabolites on DNA methylation in human blood from the umbilical cord, using a state-of-the-art 'microarray' techniques which simultaneously examines methylation at 27,578 sites in the DNA.

Professor Farrell said: "It has been known for many years that folic acid supplementation is essential for women during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight delivery. However, we had little idea as to how this worked. This study is the first to suggest that methylation of particular genes in the baby's DNA may be the key to unlocking the secret of the action of folic acid. "

"Now we have identified which genes might be the link between folic acid and birth weight, we have opened the door to research that may allow doctors to predict the likelihood of low birth weight with greater certainty. Furthermore, it sheds light on the underlying causes of low birth weight and offers the potential to intervene earlier to prevent poor pregnancy outcomes such as premature delivery and pregnancy loss."

The work, some of which was published recently in the scientific journal Epigenetics, illustrates the potential of DNA methylation 'microarray' technology to identify a new generation of clinical markers that will have a major impact, not only on the development of new therapeutic agents, but also on the way we manage a wide range of medical scenarios.

The Fetal Epigenomics Group comprises Professor Anthony Fryer, Keele Professor of Clinical Biochemistry, University Research Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine/University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Dr Richard Emes, Associate Professor in Bioinformatics, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science; University of Nottingham, Dr Khaled Ismail, Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Keele Research Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine/University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Dr Kim Haworth, Keele Research Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine, Dr Charles Mein, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry; Genome Centre, Dr William Carroll, Consultant Paediatrician, Derbyshire Children's Hospital, and Professor Farrel.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Keele University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anthony A. Fryer, Richard D. Emes, Khaled M.K. Ismail, Kim E. Haworth, Charles Mein, William D. Carroll and William E. Farrell. Quantitative, high-resolution epigenetic profiling of CpG loci identifies associations with cord blood plasma homocysteine and birth weight in humans. Epigenetics, 2011; 6 (1): 86-94 [link]

Cite This Page:

Keele University. "Link between folic acid supplementation in pregnancy, DNA methylation and birth weight in newborn babies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201095814.htm>.
Keele University. (2010, December 6). Link between folic acid supplementation in pregnancy, DNA methylation and birth weight in newborn babies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201095814.htm
Keele University. "Link between folic acid supplementation in pregnancy, DNA methylation and birth weight in newborn babies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201095814.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins