Background Vitamin B12 deficiency in children may be associated with (severe) neurological manifestations, therefore recognition is important. Diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency in children is challenging. This study aimed to investigate plasma methylmalonic acid, holotranscobalamin, and total cobalamin in children 0-18 years of age and to estimate age-dependent reference intervals. Methods Plasma vitamin B12 markers were measured in collected plasma samples of 170 children 0-18 years visiting a local primary care laboratory. All had within-reference hemoglobin and MCV values. Pediatric plasma vitamin B12 biomarkers were measured and reference values were derived thereof. Results Plasma methylmalonic acid was higher in young children, in particular between 1 and 6 months of age; total cobalamin and holotranscobalamin were highest from 0.5 to 4 years and decreased till 10 years of age. Plasma holotranscobalamin was highly correlated with plasma total cobalamin; their ratio was independent of age. Plasma methylmalonic acid was slightly more related to total cobalamin than to holotranscobalamin. A large proportion of mainly young children would be misclassified when adult references are applied. Conclusions Pediatric reference values for cobalamin markers are necessary to allow for early recognition and monitoring of children suspect of (clinical) cobalamin deficiency. Impact
We analyzed three plasma vitamin B12 status markers, i.e., total cobalamin, holotranscobalamin, and methylmalonic acid, in the plasma of 170 children 0-18 years of age and were able to derive reference intervals thereof. Recognition of vitamin B12 deficiency in children is important but challenging as pediatric reference intervals for plasma vitamin B12 status markers, particularly plasma holotranscobalamin, are not well described. We think that our results may help early recognition and monitoring of children suspect of (clinical) vitamin B12 deficiency.