As many of the previous researches say, folate deficiency is damaging for the fetus development. But new research highlights that this folate deficiency also causes chromosomal abnormalities in newborns due to their role DNA replication.
The scientists of the University of Copenhagen perform this new research. It says when a person becomes deficient on folate; it causes irreversible damage to their body. That’s why the doctor’s advice people especially pregnant mothers to be aware of their folate levels.
A deficiency in folate affects the most when the body is undergoing development as in pregnant women. This study is published in the scientific journal PNAS and is available online to view.
The researchers investigate how folate deficiency is causing problems in cell division and their role in DNA replication. By far, this folate deficiency has caused the most chromosomal abnormalities than previously known to us.
What is folate and what does it do?
Folate is a compound of vitamin B that is naturally present in greens such as broccoli, spinach, peas and other food ingredients like mushrooms, shellfish and fruit like bananas and melons.
All medical experts advise pregnant women and those who are trying to conceive to take folate supplements daily. But let’s just accept that it is not necessarily helpful for pregnancy, in general, all women should consider it.
The problem with low levels of folate is that it affects chromosomal maintenance and repair mechanisms. Once the chromosomal part of the cell is damaged, it may not be fixed if the person has a folate deficiency.
It is a severe problem when the body is in developing phase because once the cell division goes wrong, you cannot fix. Even taking high folate after this mishap will not change it. This loss is irreversible.
Therefore it is necessary to know your body’s folate levels and maintain it in general. Once the current levels are known, it is easier to determine a daily folate dosage for a person.
Consequences of low folate levels
A blood sample determines natural folate levels in the body. For many years, scientists know that folate deficiency is related to a number of medical conditions. These include mental illness, age-related dementia, and deformation of the brain and spinal cord of fetuses, also known as neural tube defects.
By far, there are no causalities due to folate deficiency but it does have serious health impacts. Whether this deficiency causes disorders or not, many secondary health effects of folate deficiency cause multiple diseases. To prove this right, the researchers further investigated lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells).
They analyzed a segment of the genome called FRAXA that contains a detailed CGG sequence simply called genetic code. Whenever the body has a folate deficiency, it causes abnormalities related to cell division –mitosis-, especially in cells longer CGG sequence. It causes faulty segregation of chromosomes. A long-term low folate level makes the entire X chromosome unstable.
It means that folate deficiency leads to higher and harmful chromosome abnormalities that were never known previously. Due to this, the daughter cell inherits an incorrect amount of DNA following cell division. Also in some cases, it may even cause a whole chromosomal loss.
It explains how folate deficiency causes problems such as infertility, mental health disorders and cancer in humans. Other parts of the genome having extensive CGG sequences are also affected by folate deficiency.
For the next phase of this study, the scientists wish to highlight all the areas of the human genome that may be disturbed by folate deficiency.