Abstract: Public health control of hyperhomocysteinemia and its consequences

Orv Hetil. 2003 Oct 5;144(40):1981-9.

[Article in Hungarian]

Czeizel E, Kalina A.

The etiological role of hyperhomocysteinemia in the origin of neural-tube defects was proved, therefore a mandatory flour folic acid fortification program was introduced in the USA since January 1, 1998. In Hungary one kind of breads was fortified with folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. The Hungarian randomised controlled trials of periconceptional folic acid containing micronutrient-combination supplementation also indicated a reduction in the occurrence of congenital cardiovascular malformations, urinary tract’s defects and congenital limb deficiencies and these findings were confirmed by US teams.

Recent studies showed a positive association between cardiovascular diseases and hyperhomocysteinemia as well, thus it is considered as an independent etiological factor in the pathogenesis of ischemic heart diseases, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, in addition of vascular diseases in the placenta during pregnancy. Other studies showed that hyperhomocysteinemia is more prevalent in demented patients and in persons with impaired cognitive performance. Some association was also found between hyperhomocysteinemia and cancers (e.g. colon).

There is strong evidence that four vitamins B, such as vitamin B11 (folate-folic acid), vitamin B12, B2 and B6 can reduce the level of serum homocysteine and subsequently neural-tube defects. In addition the results of intervention studies indicated a protective effect of folic acid and other vitamins B for some other congenital abnormalities, cardiovascular diseases, senile dementia and cancers.

The flour fortification with these water-soluble vitamins B is appropriate for an effective public health program for the primary prevention of these hyperhomocysteinemia-related disorders. There is no real risk for side effects on the basis of available US, Canadian and Hungarian experiences. In conclusion an urgent task is to introduce a mandatory flour fortification program in Hungary.

Publication Types:
Review, Tutorial

PMID: 14626640 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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