April 26, 2010
PALMERSTON NORTH, New ZealandWomen who take multivitamins early in pregnancy may reduce the chance of their babies being born underweight, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (2010 Apr 23:1-9).
The aim of researchers at the Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, was to investigate the efficacy of multivitamin supplementation during pregnancy in a socially deprived population in the developed world. They conducted a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial where they gave a multivitamin that included 20 mg of iron and 400 mg of folic acid from the first trimester of pregnancy in 402 mothers in East London. Nutrient status was measured at recruitment, and at 26 and 34 weeks of gestation. Infants were weighed at birth.
At recruitment, many of the women were anemic (13 percent), and had deficiencies in vitamin D (72 percent), thiamin (12 percent) and folate (5 percent), with no differences between groups. Only 39 percent of women completed the study; rates of non-compliance were similar in both groups.
Analysis of compliant women showed supplemented women had higher median concentrations of iron, folate and 25-hydroxyvitamin D later in gestation than controls. In the compliant subset (n=149), placebo mothers had more small-for-gestational age infants (13 v. eight; P = 0.042) than treatment mothers.
The multivitamin was well-tolerated and improved nutrient status, according to the researchers.
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