Researchers have developed a novel method to test for vitamin B12 deficiency that is sensitive enough to work on anyone, including newborn babies and large swaths of the general population. The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be tested with a single drop of blood collected from a finger prick, then blotted and dried overnight on a card consisting of filter paper. The study made dried blood spot card analysis sensitive enough to measure the amount of methylmalonic acid (MMA), an indicator of a person's B12 level.
The method simplifies blood sample collection for researchers in rural or remote areas where sophisticated lab equipment is unavailable. It's currently being used in a research project in rural Indonesia.
The method could also have a significant clinical application. It has the potential to be added to the BC Newborn Screening Program. The program tests for treatable disorders in all infants born in the province. B12 deficiency, if not detected and treated early, can cause delayed brain development, slow learning and digestion problems in babies.