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FOLIC ACID

About the test
What is this test done for?
To measure the amount of folic acid (Vitamin B9) in the blood.
Why is it Done?

Folic acid is needed to produce RBC, WBC & platelets and for normal growth & development of foetus. It is done :

  • To check the cause of anaemia.
  • To check malnutrition or problem of malabsorption of folic acid.
  • To monitor treatment given for folic acid
  • To see if the women has enough folic acid to prevent birth defect & allow the baby to grow normally.
When should it be performed?

When the patient presents with symptoms of:

  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • A swollen, red tongue, with inflammation i.e. glossitis
  • Bleeding gums.
  • A lack of appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Numbness.
  • Difficulty in walking.
  • Memory loss.

Symptoms of anaemia like:

  • Pale skin.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Confusion.
How is it done
  • Minimum 8 hours fasting is needed before the test without food or liquid (except water). A blood sample will be collected from a vein in your arm.
  • Avoid folic acid injections before the test.
Results

Normal values vary from lab to lab & also with age.

  • Adult:           3-13 ng /ml or 7-30 nmol/L.
  • Children:     5-21 ng /ml or 11-47 nmol/L.

The values can be either high or low.

High values can be due to:

  • Taking folic acid pills or diet rich in folate.

Low values can be due to:

  • Dietary deficiency
  • Alcohol dependence.
  • Anorexia nervosa.
  • Folic acid malabsorption due to gastric upsets.
  • Vitamin C deficiency.
  • Liver disease.
  • Haemolytic anaemia.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Cancer, medication.
  • Pregnancy & lactation.
Other Tests
CBC should be done to assess status of anaemia. Imaging tests like fetal scan might be done if folic acid levels are too low in pregnant women. Vitamin B12 levels can be done to detect cause of anaemia.
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