Multivitamins during pregnancy may benefit infant health

March 29, 2010

Daily supplements of multivitamins during pregnancy may improve the growth of the baby in the womb of black mothers, says a new study.

The results of the epidemiological study with 2,331 white and 133 African American women showed that black women who were taking daily multivitamins in and around the time of conception gave birth to babies who weighed on average half a kilo more than babies from women not taking the supplements (1). There was no association between multivitamin use in white women and the birth weight.

African American women in the United States deliver preterm and low birth weight infants two to three times more frequently than their white counterparts, the researchers commented. Low birth weight has been linked to higher risks of negative health outcomes, including neonatal and infant mortality, poor growth and cognitive development, and higher risks of chronic diseases later in life, like diabetes and heart disease.

Being an epidemiological study, the results do not prove causality and the researchers note that it is possible that multivitamin use is merely indicative of a healthy lifestyle, which would produce healthier pregnancies. In addition, the data do not show which nutrient or combination of nutrients in multivitamins might affect fetal growth. Despite this limitation, the researchers concluded that the findings are consistent with a plausible role played by micronutrients in fetal growth.

References

  1. Burris H. H. et al. Periconceptional Multivitamin Use and Infant Birth Weight Disparities. Annals of Epidemiology. 2010; 20(3):233–240.