Vitamin B12 deficiency appears to be more common in people with Down’s syndrome. At least some of the deficiency may be due to Coeliac disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause a variety of symptoms including poor appetite, numbness, difficulty with balance, confusion and memory loss. Taken together these symptoms may look like Alzheimer’s disease. Anyone presenting with neurological or psychological changes should be tested for Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Source: Down's Syndrome Association 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause profound alterations in the bone marrow. These alterations can mimic the more serious diagnosis of acute leukemia. Two patients were suspected of having acute leukemia or myelodysplasia on the basis of bone marrow smear. They were both found to have vitamin B12 deficiency. Parenteral vitamin B12 resulted in normalization of the bone marrow.

Source: Micro-Nutrient Needs in Down Syndrome: A peer-reviewed science base © 2014 Joan Jory, MSc, PhD, RD

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time. It can also come on relatively quickly. Given the array of symptoms it can cause, the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else.

Symptoms may include:

  • strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet

  • difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)

  • anemia

  • a swollen, inflamed tongue

  • yellowed skin (jaundice)

  • difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss

  • paranoia or hallucinations

  • weakness

  • fatigue


While an experienced physician may be able to detect a vitamin B12 deficiency with a good interview and physical exam, a blood test is needed to confirm the condition.

Early detection and treatment is important. “If left untreated, the deficiency can cause severe neurologic problems and blood diseases,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Taken from Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful - Harvard Health Publications

See also Folate

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