Examining the Folate Status of Canadians: An Analysis of the Canadian Health Measures Survey to Assess and Guide Folate Policies

Title: Examining the Folate Status of Canadians: An Analysis of the Canadian Health Measures Survey to Assess and Guide Folate Policies
Authors: Colapinto, Cynthia
Date: 2013
Abstract: Canada fortifies certain products with folic acid and has periconceptional supplementation guidelines – policies designed to improve folate status and reduce the incidence of poor birth outcomes. Though optimal folate concentrations have been linked to health benefits, concerns have been raised regarding potential associations with adverse health outcomes. Direct biochemical assessment of the folate status of Canadians based on a nationally representative sample has not been done in more than 40 years. The overall purpose of this research was to investigate the folate status of the Canadian population. All analyses used the nationally representative 2007–2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). Red blood cell (RBC) folate was measured by Immulite 2000 immunoassay. Key findings indicate that folate deficiency (<305 nmol/L) was virtually non-existent in the Canadian population (6–79 years old). Still, one-fifth of women of childbearing age (WCBA; 15–45 years old) had sub-optimal concentrations for the prevention of neural tube defects (<906 nmol/L). Folic acid supplement intake was a primary determinant of WCBA achieving a RBC folate concentration ≥906 nmol/L. A distinct shift towards elevated RBC folate concentrations emerged. Three hypothetical cut-offs (1450 nmol/L, 1800 nmol/L and 2150 nmol/L) were examined to create dialogue since a universal definition of high RBC folate concentration does not exist. Females, participants aged 60¬–79 years, and those who were overweight or obese had the greatest prevalence of having high RBC folate at each cut-off. We conducted the first national-level comparison of RBC folate concentrations between the United States and Canada. Two different folate assay methods – microbiologic assay (NHANES) and Immulite 2000 immunoassay (CHMS) – necessitated the application of a conversion equation. Median Canadian RBC folate concentrations (adjusted to microbiologic assay) were lower than those of Americans but unadjusted Canadian median RBC folate values were higher. Canadian WCBA were less likely than American WCBA to have RBC folate ≥906 nmol/L, though Canadian WCBA with unadjusted RBC folate values were more likely to achieve this cut-off. These results indicate a need for strategies targeting WCBA to improve compliance with folic acid supplement recommendations. The strength and necessity of supplements for the general population should be re-assessed. Further, harmonization of folate measurement procedures in future surveillance efforts would support comparisons and inform policy directions.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/26103
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -