South asian ethnicity is related to the highest risk of vitamin b12 deficiency in pregnant canadian women

Marta Jeruszka-Bielak, Carly Isman, Theresa H. Schroder, Wangyang Li, Tim J. Green, Yvonne Lamers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Vitamin B12 (B12) adequacy during pregnancy is crucial for maternal health and optimal fetal development; however, suboptimal B12 status has been reported in pregnant Canadian women. Methylmalonic acid (MMA) is a sensitive indicator of B12 status. Since few studies have measured MMA during pregnancy in Canadian women, the objective of this study was to evaluate B12 status in pregnant women living in Metro Vancouver, using both plasma total B12 and MMA. We recruited a convenience sample of 320 pregnant women between 20 and 35 gestational weeks from local healthcare facilities. Plasma total B12 concentrations indicative of deficiency (<148 pmol/L) and suboptimal B12 status (148–220 pmol/L) were found in 18% and 33% of the women, respectively. Normal plasma MMA concentration (<210 nmol/L) was observed in 82% of all women. Gestational age was a strong predictor of plasma total B12 and MMA concentration, and South Asian ethnicity of B-12 deficiency and MMA concentrations. Overall, there was a high discrepancy between the prevalence of B12 inadequacy depending on the biomarker used. Independently, however, South Asian women were at particular risk for B12 deficiency, likely due to lower animal source food intake. Further study of this vulnerable group and performance testing of B12 biomarkers is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number317
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Cobalamin
  • Deficiency
  • Ethnicity
  • Low vitamin B12 status
  • MMA
  • Methylmalonic acid
  • Predictor
  • Pregnancy
  • South Asian
  • Vitamin B12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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