FOLATE AND ALLERGY
ANCHOR LEAD: CONTRARY TO WHAT MOST EXPERTS THOUGHT, HIGH FOLATE IS NOT RELATED TO INCREASED RATES OF ALLERGY AND ASTHMA. ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
More than a decade ago, many foods began to be supplemented with a B vitamin called folate, largely to prevent spinal cord defects in babies. Almost at the same time, allergies and asthma appeared to take a leap, occurring much more often than previously. Researchers speculated that the two were related, but a Johns Hopkins study led by Elizabeth Matsui has shown that high folate actually appears to be protective.
MATSUI: It turned out that most everybody had folate levels that were within the normal range, but that the higher the folate levels were the lower the risk was of having an allergy to an environmental allergen, of having had wheeze in the last twelve months, and people just had lower levels overall of their total allergy antibody. :21
Matsui says it’s too early to recommend folate supplements to prevent allergies and asthma, but the idea is worth studying. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.