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.
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:
The following raise your risk for this type of anemia:
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.
Symptoms may include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Call your provider if you have symptoms of 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.
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.
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.