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Multivitamins during pregnancy may reduce the risk of underweight babies

April 23, 2010

Increased intakes of multiple micronutrient supplements during pregnancy may improve the health of pregnant women and their babies, a new UK study reports.

In the randomized controlled trial, over 400 women from the first trimester of pregnancy were randomly assigned to receive either a formula containing 19 vitamins and minerals or a placebo (1). Nutrient status was measured at recruitment, 26 and 34 weeks gestation. The results showed that the women taking the multiple micronutrient supplement during pregnancy had an improvement in nutrient status and a reduction in the number of infants with low birth weightcompared to the placebo.

In addition, the study found significant levels of vitamin and mineral deficiency amongst the mothers during early pregnancy. At thestart of the trial, 72 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, 13 percent had low iron levels and 12 percent were vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficient. In the group receiving the supplement, markers of iron, vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin D status were all higher during the third trimestercompared to the placebo group.

The researchers highlighted that a significant number of women even in the developed world are lacking in important nutrients during pregnancy. It is especially important to have good nutrient levels during early pregnancy as this is a critical time for development of the fetus. A good diet during pregnancy is important for a healthy pregnancy. For those who do not have a good diet a multivitamin and mineral supplement can help to reduce the risk of deficiency and birth defects, they concluded.

References

  1. Brough L. et al. Effect of multiple-micronutrient supplementation on maternal nutrient status, infant birth weight and gestational age at birth in a low-income, multi-ethnic population. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010.