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Causes of Folate Deficiency
Poor dietary intake of folic acid as in chronic alcoholism, Increased demand for folic acid as in pregnancy and children, in hemolysis, and in dialysis patients.
Drugs which have anti–folate action e.g. methotrexate.
Poor absorption as in malabsorption.
Diagnosis of Folate Deficiency
Folate deficiency is a clinical diagnosis. A bone marrow examination can be done to confirm the diagnosis. One can measure the amount of folate in the red blood cells but these tests are expensive and not readily available.
Treatment of Folate Deficiency
The objective of treatment is to treat the underlying cause of the anemia. Oral or parenteral folic acid supplements are prescribed. These drugs are cheap and do not cause any serious adverse side effects. Dietary treatment consists of increasing the intake of green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits. Anemia usually responds well to treatment with correction of the abnormalities within 2 months.