Testing Your Children for MTHFR: The What, When, Why, and How
MTHFR gene mutation, Methylfolate deficiency, Folic Acid supplementation, you’ve heard it all by now. Despite it being all over the internet and social media, many people are still clueless about the importance these three things have on your child’s daily health -- which is one of the most significant reasons many children won’t get tested for it.
It’s believed that nearly 40% of the entire population will have a mutation in at least one of their copies of the MTHFR gene, yet a majority of these people will go their entire lives without knowing it. In some cases, people will carry two variants of the mutation, making matters even worse.
Learning how to take control and manage your MTHFR mutation at an early age can drastically change the course of your life for the better. There are even steps a mother can take before the child is born to help reduce the risk of folate deficiency.
We understand this is a complex subject that many people don’t know about. That’s why we’re going to break down everything you need to know about MTHFR in children, including the various signs and symptoms, the testing process, and different ways to manage the mutation.
What Is MTHFR?
MTHFR, short for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, is a gene found in our DNA. Every single person on this planet will have two copies of the MTHFR gene, one from each parent. Its main responsibility is to provide the correct coding for a specific enzyme. Believe it or not, this enzyme is called the MTHFR enzyme.
Once the MTHFR gene produces the MTHFR enzyme, it can start to work its magic on the body. In addition to helping the body process amino acids -- like homocysteine -- the MTHFR enzyme plays a major role in the conversion of Folate into L-Methylfolate. Without this extremely important reaction occurring throughout the day, the body wouldn’t be able to use Folate properly.
Not to confuse you any more, but Folate is the natural form of Vitamin B9 -- as opposed to the synthetic form of folic acid. Folate is an important part of our daily diet, along with the other B-complex vitamins. Keep in mind that Folate is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it’ll be excreted out of the body if not properly converted into Methylfolate.
Now that we understand what the gene is, how it influences the enzyme, and what the enzyme does to Folate, let’s discuss the importance of Methylfolate. Once the body converts it from Folate, it will play a large role in methylation -- yet another process occurring in the body daily.
Methylation is essential for gene expression, detoxifying the body, synthesizing neurotransmitters and hormones, producing energy, building and repairing DNA, enhancing the immune system, reducing histamine blood levels, and regulating our mood throughout the day. As you can see, the MTHFR gene is a lot more important than you’d think.
How Do Children Get MTHFR Mutations?
Going back to what we were saying earlier, every single person will receive one copy of the MTHFR gene from each parent. Likewise, it’s possible for someone to have a mutation in both copies -- this would be the worst case.
So, what does this have to do with your child’s health? Well, much like your parents passed down the MTHFR gene to you, you’ll do the same for your biological children. If you hold one variant of the gene, there’s a chance it gets passed down. If you hold two variants, then your child will definitely get one.
Taking it a step further, it’s possible for your partner to also pass a variation down to the child. With that being said, it’s possible for your child to get two variants if both parents have at least one.
Of all the variants that have been discovered, there are two that raise the most concerns:
having one copy can reduce MTHFR productivity by 30%, with two copies of the variant (mutation) possibly causing a 70% reduction in productivity.
this is sometimes seen as the less dangerous variant, because having two copies can lead to a 40% reduction in MTHFR efficiency, but doctors who know MTHFR find both of these mutations are having an impact on health.
Symptoms of MTHFR In Children
Since most people don’t know what the MTHFR gene mutation is, they won’t be keeping an eye out for any of the signs and symptoms of MTHFR. At the same time, because the signs and symptoms will often fall in line with other common diseases and illnesses, they can get overlooked.
While it can be extremely easy to look past the mutation in lieu of other possible diagnoses, you shouldn’t rule it out as a potential underlying cause contributing to your child’s overall health.
Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms related to the MTHFR mutation:
- Cleft palate, cleft lip, tongue tie, and lip tie
- High levels of stress, overreactions, and difficult behavior
- Problems with the immune system
- High levels of anxiety, depression, and mood-related illnesses
- Difficulty focusing, learning, and Autism
- Respiratory issues like asthma