Learn About Folate-Deficiency Anemia

What is the definition of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Folate-deficiency anemia is a decrease in red blood cells (anemia) due to a lack of folate. Folate is a type of B vitamin. It is also called folic acid.

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

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What are the causes of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Folate (folic acid) is needed for red blood cells to form and grow. You can get folate by eating green leafy vegetables and liver. However, your body does not store folate in large amounts. So, you need to eat plenty of folate-rich foods to maintain normal levels of this vitamin.

In folate-deficiency anemia, the red blood cells are abnormally large. Such cells are called macrocytes. They are also called megaloblasts, when they are seen in the bone marrow. That is why this anemia is also called megaloblastic anemia.

Causes of this type of anemia include:

  • Too little folic acid in your diet
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Long-term alcoholism
  • Use of certain medicines (such as phenytoin [Dilantin], methotrexate, sulfasalazine, triamterene, pyrimethamine, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and barbiturates)

The following raise your risk for this type of anemia:

  • Alcoholism
  • Eating overcooked food
  • Poor diet (often seen in the poor, the older people, and people who do not eat fresh fruits or vegetables)
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight loss diets

Folic acid is needed to help a baby in the womb grow properly. Too little folic acid during pregnancy may lead to birth defects in a baby.

What are the symptoms of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Pallor
  • Sore mouth and tongue
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What are the current treatments for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

The goal is to identify and treat the cause of the folate deficiency.

You may receive folic acid supplements by mouth, injected into muscle, or through a vein (in rare cases). If you have low folate levels because of a problem with your intestines, you may need treatment for the rest of your life.

Diet changes can help boost your folate level. Eat more green, leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Who are the top Folate-Deficiency Anemia Local Doctors?
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Graduate Institute Of Clinical Dentistry

National Taiwan University 
TPQ, TW 

Andy Sun is in Taiwan. Sun is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Folate-Deficiency Anemia. He is also highly rated in 21 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Glossitis, Vitamin B12 Deficiency, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, and Folate-Deficiency Anemia.

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Far Eastern Memorial Hospital

Institute Of Oral Medicine, National Cheng Kung University 
Tainan, TNQ, TW 

Yu-hsueh Wu is in Tainan, Taiwan. Wu is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Folate-Deficiency Anemia. They are also highly rated in 21 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Folate-Deficiency Anemia, Folate Deficiency, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, and Aphthous Stomatitis.

 
 
 
 
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School Of Dentistry

Graduate Institute Of Oral Biology, National Taiwan University 
TPQ, TW 

Chun-pin Chiang is in Taiwan. Chiang is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Folate-Deficiency Anemia. They are also highly rated in 27 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Folate Deficiency, Folate-Deficiency Anemia, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, and Vitamin B12 Deficiency.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Folate-deficiency anemia most often responds well to treatment within 3 to 6 months. It will likely get better when the underlying cause of the deficiency is treated.

What are the possible complications of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Symptoms of anemia can cause discomfort. In pregnant women, folate deficiency has been associated with neural tube or spinal defects (such as spina bifida) in the infant.

Other, more severe complications may include:

  • Curly graying hair
  • Increased skin color (pigment)
  • Infertility
  • Worsening of heart disease or heart failure
When should I contact a medical professional for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of folate deficiency anemia.

How do I prevent Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Eating plenty of folate-rich foods can help prevent this condition.

Experts recommend that women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before they get pregnant and through the first 3 months of their pregnancy.

Megaloblastic anemia - view of red blood cells
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Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : February 06, 2020
Published By : Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 39.

Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC. Hematopoietic and lymphoid systems. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins Basic Pathology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 12.