Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, is important for growth and gene expression in the fetus. Babies who are deficient in it, or cannot absorb it, may have mental retardation, seizures, severe infections, or anemia.
Until now, scientists were not sure what mechanism the body used to absorb folate. This vitamin is water soluble, therefore not easily penetrating fatty cell membranes. Recent research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in New York concludes that a membrane protein called PCFT/HCP1 transports folate into intestinal cells.
This discovery may help cure hereditary folate malabsorption in babies.