June 6, 2009

Vitamins Associated With Decreased Risk Of Miscarriage

Women who take vitamins before and during early pregnancy may have a lower risk of miscarriage, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

However, it isn't clear whether it is the vitamins themselves that reduce the risk, or if other healthy practices among vitamin takers are responsible. 

"These results need to be replicated before formal conclusions are drawn," said Dr. Reem Hasan of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in an interview with Reuters.

Vitamin guidelines for pregnant women, or women who are planning to become pregnant, seek primarily to reduce the risk of birth defects, said Hasan and his colleagues.

The new research indicates "that vitamins may reduce the risk of miscarriage as well," Hasan told Reuters.

Hasan's team interviewed 4752 women between 2000 and 2008 during their first trimester of pregnancy to assess their use of prenatal vitamins and multi-vitamins.

In total, 95 percent of the women reported using prenatal vitamins or multivitamins at some point during their first trimester, while roughly 50 percent reported taking vitamins prior to conception.

There were 524 miscarriages among the study participants. The scientists found that the miscarriage risk was 57 percent less among women who took vitamins, compared with those who did not.

This reduced risk held constant even when other factors, such as age, smoking status, race, hormone use, the number of prior pregnancies, educational level and marital status were taken into account, said Hassan and colleagues.

"Because miscarriage occurs very early in pregnancy, it is important for women of reproductive age, who may become pregnant, to eat a balanced diet and use vitamins." Hasan said.

The study was unable to account for dietary factors or healthy lifestyle behaviors, and did not distinguish between prenatal vitamin and multivitamin use.  For that reason, further research into how these factors might affect miscarriage risk is needed, Hasan and his team said.

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, June 2009.


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