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Prenatal multivitamins help pregnant moms to fill gaps in their diet and meet their own—and their baby’s—special nutritional needs. Now researchers have found a link between taking multivitamins around the time of conception and prevention of early births and births of babies born smaller than normal for their gestational age.
Nearly 36,000 women participating in the Danish National Birth Cohort, a large ongoing study of pregnant women and their children, were included in the study. All of them reported using multivitamins, just folic acid supplements, or no supplements in the 12 weeks around conception: 4 weeks before the last menstrual period until 8 weeks after.
The women were followed until after delivery and were monitored for preterm births (delivery before week 37 of pregnancy) and births of babies that were small for gestational age (weight, length, or head circumference below the tenth percentile for the number of weeks of pregnancy). These are important measures of newborn health because infants born preterm or small for gestational age are at greater risk for a wide variety of health and developmental problems.
When the researchers looked at birth outcomes and vitamin use, they found the following:
“It may be that multivitamin use around the time of conception could be a safe and simple strategy to improve pregnancy outcomes,” the study’s authors said in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, while pointing out that more research is needed to show this definitively.
In addition to a multivitamin, there are a few other key supplements that you can consider taking during pregnancy:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:906–12)
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