Vitamins may lower risk of birth complication

November 12, 2012

Vitamins may lower risk of birth complication

Study Highlights Benefits of Daily Multivitamin Supplement – Lowers Risk of Preterm Births, Low Birth Weight and Neural Tube Birth Defects

A new report, already seen online but soon to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that taking multivitamins may reduce some common risks associated with pregnancy.

Many women are aware of the benefits of taking folic acid everyday whilst trying to fall pregnant. The vitamin-B supplement folic acid is known to lower the risk of low birth weight babies, preterm birth and neural tube birth defects. Now there is a new study which shows that taking multivitamins everyday around the time of conception shows the same reduced risks of giving birth to a low birth weight baby, neural tube birth defects and preterm births. Folic acid is present in most multivitamins anyway, and it is thought that the other nutrients in the vitamins, including vitamins C and E and zinc may add to the improved chance of healthier births.

The Findings

The study identified that normal weight women could reduce their risks of preterm birth by taking multivitamins daily. It was also found that overweight women did not reduce any risk by taking the multivitamins.

The study involved almost 36,000 Danish women, and all were asked about their habits concerning taking multivitamins around the time of conception. About 21,600 women (60%) said that they did take multivitamins. Earlier studies indicated that taking multivitamins around the time of conception and during the surrounding months, reduced the risk of preeclampsia. This pregnancy associated condition can lead to stroke and can be fatal.

Normal risks caused by smoking, age and obesity were factored out of the equation and it was found that normal weight and under weight women had a 16% risk reduction against women who did not take multivitamins when considering preterm delivery risks. Why overweight women did not see this decrease in risk is at present unknown.

The study also found that if multivitamins were taken before conception then the risk of low birth weight dropped by between 10% and 20%. If the multivitamins were taken after conception, then the reduction in risk improved to 33%. Both sets of benefits were felt by women of all weights.

Advocate Multivitamins with Caution? – The Doctors are Undecided

Taking folic acid when trying to fall pregnant is a good way to reduce risks and has been known about for a long time. That and having a healthy balanced diet with lots of folate rich foods all contribute to a healthy birth and reduce the risks of preterm births, low birth weight, and neural tube birth defects. Some researchers believe that multivitamins may contribute to lowering the risk of any abnormal birth conditions occurring.

However, although no evidence of negative effects have been identified when using multivitamins, many medical professionals say that more study must take place before promoting it. One professional says, “We need to look more closely at the potential for adverse outcomes before recommending multivitamin use as a strategy for lowering pregnancy risk”. Other professionals such as Ob-gyn Jennifer Wu, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, have no such reticence. She routinely recommends taking multivitamins that contain calcium if any of her patients tell her that they are trying to have a baby. She explains that, “Taking a multivitamin is a good habit to get into because many women have nutritional deficiencies that we want to correct, ideally before conception”. She further points out that pregnancy is just one issue in a womanÂ’s life and numerous younger women are deficient in calcium but by taking supplements now they are protecting their bones which will benefit them when they are in their 60s and 70s.

Other professionals point out that roughly 50% of pregnancies are accidental, so taking a multivitamin every day could lower the risks of an unhealthy birth. Multivitamins can be considered an aid for reducing risks during pregnancy and childbirth if taken around the date of the conception, say the health professionals who promote its widespread usage.

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