British Journal of Nutrition

Short Communication

Body composition at age 9 years, maternal folate intake during pregnancy and methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T genotype

Sarah J. Lewisa1 c1, Sam Learya2, George Davey Smitha1 and Andy Nessa2

a1 Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK

a2 Department of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK


Nutrition during pregnancy and in early life may influence developmental plasticity and alter susceptibility to obesity and adult disease. One mechanism by which this could occur is through epigenetic changes, such as changes in methylation levels, which modify gene expression patterns. Folate intake during pregnancy, as well as maternal methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T genotype, influences the availability of methyl donors for methylation during gestation and therefore may be associated with offspring body composition in childhood. We looked at associations between maternal folic acid supplementation at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, folate intake in the diet (from self-reported FFQ) at 32 weeks of pregnancy and offspring body composition at age 9 years among 5783 children from a population-based birth cohort study in the UK. We also looked at maternal and offspring's MTHFR C677T genotype in relation to offspring body composition. We found no evidence to support the hypothesis that intra-uterine exposure to folate influences childhood body composition.

(Received March 12 2008)

(Revised November 21 2008)

(Accepted December 20 2008)

(Online publication February 10 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Sarah J. Lewis, fax +44 117 928 7325, email


Abbreviations: ALSPAC, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children; MTHFR, methyltetrahydrofolate reductase