Assessment of Serum Folic Acid and Homocysteine in Thalassemia Major Patients Before and After Folic Acid Supplement Cessation

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Background:Thalassemic patients have ineffective erythropoiesis. In recent treatment protocols, there are little data on folic acid supplementation for patients with thalassemia because it is supposed that regular blood transfusions prevent bone marrow hyperfunctioning.Objective:Investigators aimed to assess serum folic acid and homocysteine (Hcy) in thalassemia major patients before and after folic acid supplement cessation.Patients and Methods:This study was a before-after controlled clinical trial conducted in 17th Shahrivar Hospital, Rasht, North of Iran, during May to October 2016. The patients enrolled in this study had thalassemia major on regular blood transfusion and older than 2 years of age. They had at least a 6-month history of folic acid supplement consumption before enrollment in the study (1 mg/daily). Complete blood count, serum folic acid, and serum Hcy were measured before discontinuation of folic acid supplement. Then, patients did not receive folic acid for a month and after 1 month of folic acid cessation, the measurements were repeated. All data were entered in SPSS version 20.0 and analyzed.Results:Among the 40 patients in this study, 25 (62.5%) were female. The mean age of the participants was 21.39±11.17 years old. The mean of body mass index was 21.38±3.32 kg/m2. Most of the participants had used folic acid supplement >5 years (29, 72.5%). The serum Hcy level was significantly increased (5.24±2.35 vs. 5.93±2.56; P=0.008) and serum folic acid level was decreased significantly (14.74±4.20 vs. 8.80±4.16; P<0.0001) from baseline.Conclusions:Cessation of folic acid supplementations in beta thalassemia major patients can lead to a significant decrease in serum folic acid and increase in Hcy levels. According to our findings and efficacy of folic acid in patients with beta thalassemia major, it is recommended to use the supplementation in all patients.

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