The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Lower maternal folate status in early pregnancy is associated with childhood hyperactivity and peer problems in offspring

Schlotz, Wolff, Jones, Alexander, Phillips, David I.W., Gale, Catharine R., Robinson, Sian M. and Godfrey, Keith M. (2010) Lower maternal folate status in early pregnancy is associated with childhood hyperactivity and peer problems in offspring Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51, (5), pp. 594-602.

Record type: Article


Background: Maternal nutrition during pregnancy has been linked with fetal brain development and psychopathology in the offspring. We examined for associations of maternal folate status and dietary intake during pregnancy with brain growth and childhood behavioural difficulties in the offspring.

Methods: In a prospective cohort study, maternal red blood cell folate (RCF) was measured at 14 weeks of pregnancy and total folate intake (TFI) from food and supplements was assessed in early and late pregnancy. The offspring’s head circumference and body weight were measured at birth and in infancy, and 100 mothers reported on children’s behavioural difficulties at a mean age of 8.75 years using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

Results: Lower maternal RCF and TFI in early pregnancy were associated with higher childhood hyperactivity (RCF: beta = -.24; p = .013; TFI: beta = -.24; p = .022) and peer problems scores (RCF: beta = -.28; p = .004; TFI: beta = -.28; p = .009) in the offspring. Maternal gestational RCF was positively associated with head circumference at birth (adjusted for gestational age), and mediation analyses showed significant inverse indirect associations of RCF with hyperactivity/inattention and peer problems via fetal brain growth. Adjustment for mother’s smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy did not change the results.

Conclusions: Although the associations are small and residual confounding is possible, our data provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that lower folate status in early pregnancy might impair fetal brain development and affect hyperactivity/inattention and peer problems in childhood.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: May 2010
Keywords: fetal programming, folate, behavioural difficulties, fetal brain growth, hyperactivity, peer problems
Organisations: Human Wellbeing, Medicine


Local EPrints ID: 69310
ISSN: 0021-9630
PURE UUID: 31ebdfaa-b460-42c5-96e0-29cb68039297
ORCID for Sian M. Robinson: ORCID iD
ORCID for Keith M. Godfrey: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 29 Oct 2009
Last modified: 29 Aug 2017 01:04

Export record


Author: Wolff Schlotz
Author: Alexander Jones
Author: David I.W. Phillips

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.