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Multivitamins Could Prevent Pregnancy Complications

August 20, 2011

Taking multivitamins just prior to a pregnancy could reduce a woman’s risk of going into premature labor or having a low birth-weight child, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has discovered.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Aarhus, and Statens Serum Institut studied more than 35,000 Danish women. According to Reuters Health, they surveyed each subject about their multivitamin use “use around the time of conception–four weeks before and eight weeks after a woman’s last period.”

According to the study, lead researcher Janet M. Catov of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and her colleagues “related the timing and frequency” of multivitamin use during the pre-pregnancy and post-conception periods to occurrences of preterm births (PTBs) or small-for-gestational-age (SGA) births.

“Regular preconception and postconception multivitamin use in women with a prepregnancy BMI (in kg/m2) <25 was associated with reduced risks of a PTB (HR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.95) and preterm labor (HR: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.69, 0.94),” they wrote in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper.

“No similar associations were shown for overweight women,” they added. “The adjusted risk of an SGA birth was reduced in multivitamin users regardless of their prepregnancy BMI (HR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.95), with the strongest association in regular users in the postconception period.”

While Reuters Health points out that poor nutrition has been linked to complications in pregnancy, and adds that the new study strengthens that link, “it doesn’t prove that taking multivitamins is a good idea for women who plan to get pregnant or already are.”

“In fact, U.S. health officials advise expectant mothers against taking regular vitamins, which might harm the baby,” the wire service added. “But they do recommend supplementing the diet with folic acid, which cuts the chance of certain birth defects.”

In addition to Catov, Lisa M. Bodnar, Jorn Olsen, Sjurdur Olsen, and Ellen A Nohr are credited as authors on the study, which was first published on July 27, 2011. The research was sponsored by the Danish National Research Foundation, which established the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre that initiated and created the Danish National Birth Cohort.

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