Acquired and inherited disorders of cobalamin and folate in children


  • V. Michael Whitehead

    1. The Hematology Service, Montreal Children's Hospital and the McGill University-Montreal Children's Hospital Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC, Canada
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Dr V. Michael Whitehead, 1501 Mont Echo Road, Sutton, QC, Canada J0E 2K0. E-mail:


Cobalamin deficiency in the newborn usually results from cobalamin deficiency in the mother. Megaloblastic anaemia, pancytopenia and failure to thrive can be present, accompanied by neurological deficits if the diagnosis is delayed. Most cases of spina bifida and other neural tube defects result from maternal folate and/or cobalamin insufficiency in the periconceptual period. Polymorphisms in a number of genes involved in folate and cobalamin metabolism exacerbate the risk. Inborn errors of cobalamin metabolism affect its absorption, (intrinsic factor deficiency, Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome) and transport (transcobalamin deficiency) as well as its intracellular metabolism affecting adenosylcobalamin synthesis (cblA and cblB), methionine synthase function (cblE and cblG) or both (cblC, cblD and cblF). Inborn errors of folate metabolism include congenital folate malabsorption, severe methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency and formiminotransferase deficiency. The identification of disease-causing mutations in specific genes has improved our ability to diagnose many of these conditions, both before and after birth.