Background: Total plasma homocysteine (tHcy) is an independent risk factor
for cardiovascular disease in adults. Data for children and adolescents are
Objective: The aim of this study was to provide a reference range for tHcy
and to explore the relation between tHcy and nutritional indexes in a Belgi
an pediatric population.
Design: tHcy, folate, and vitamin B-12 were measured in 647 healthy childre
n (353 girls and 294 boys) aged 5-19 y.
Results: The tHcy distribution was, as in adults, skewed to the right [geom
etric mean (-1 SD, +1 SD): 7.41 mu mol/L (5.51, 9.96)]. Concentrations were
lowest in younger children and increased with age. After the tHcy distribu
tion was examined according to age, 3 age ranges were distinguished: 5-9 y
[6.21 mu mol/L (5.14, 7.50)], 10-14 y [7.09 mu mol/L (5.69, 8.84)], and 15-
19 y [8.84 mu mol/L (6.36, 12.29)]. We observed no significant differences
in tHcy values between girls and boys in children aged <15 y; in postpubert
al children, however, concentrations were higher in boys than in girls. In
the 3 age groups, folate was inversely correlated with tHcy; the negative r
elation between tHcy and vitamin B-12 was less strong. Familial cardiovascu
lar disease was more frequent in children who had hyperhomocysteinemia.
Conclusions: These observations suggest that in children, as in adults, gen
etic, nutritional, and endocrine factors are determinants of the metabolism
of homocysteine. The significance of tHcy values in childhood and young ad
ulthood in terms of predicting cardiovascular risk in adulthood should be i