Associations of serum folate and B12 with cognitive function in children ages 6-16 years old

Cathy T. Nguyen, Brian K. Lee, Edward J. Gracely
Folate and B12 are important for nervous system functioning at all ages, with important roles in functions such as neurotransmitter synthesis. Although studies suggest a relation between folate and B12 and cognitive function in the elderly population, there is relatively less evidence regarding these vitamins and children's cognitive function. Objective: The purpose of the study was to examine the associations of serum folate and B12 with cognitive performance in children ages 6-16 years old in
more » ... the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), conducted from 1988 to 1994. Design: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted using data on 5,365 children ages 6-16 years old from NHANES III. Serum folate and B12 were measured, along with performance on the Wide Range Achievement Test-Revised (math and reading) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (block design and digit span). Associations of B vitamins with cognitive performance were assessed using linear regression models adjusted for various covariates. Results: Higher serum concentrations of folate were associated with higher reading and block design scores after adjusting for various covariates. For example, compared with the lowest quartile of folate, children in the highest quartile scored on average 3.05 points higher on the reading test (p<0.001). B12 was not associated with any of the test scores. Conclusions: In the largest study to-date, higher folate concentrations were associated with better reading and block design scores. However, to determine the ideal concentrations of folate needed for optimal cognitive performance, more intervention studies with longitudinal follow-up are needed.
doi:10.17918/etd-4086 fatcat:wai6bvy74bch5fk5zo3udwoubq