I LUUURVE reading the New York Times’ articles on pregnancy. They’re pretty left and talk about things like how hippies give birth, home births, obesity and pregnancy, and general research relating to pregnancy. A wee while ago I read all the articles they have that are tagged with pregnancy. It’s sad but that was a fun day for me. There’s a whole bunch of stuff on there I want to talk about here but in time…one that stuck out for me as requiring discussion a bit sooner is the article about prenatal vitamins.
The said article is actually about taking vitamins both before and after conception and how this can impact upon your baby at birth. The study, which took place in Denmark looking at 36,000 women, apparently found that mothers who took prenatal vitamins 4 weeks before and 8 weeks after their last period (and were of ‘average weight – i.e. not overweight or obese) were less likely to have low-birth-weight babies. They also said you were 20% less likely to have a preterm birth if you took a daily supplement.
As ever, the findings are said to be inconclusive and more research is required, thus absolving them of any responsibility (even though a whole bunch of pregnancy magazines have probably already stated this as fact).
It’s a bit late for me and taking vitamins at conception (although I only took folic acid and Vitamin D once I found out at about 6 weeks – I then moved onto a full pregnancy multi-vitamin) but what stuck out for me in this article was…
While some studies have suggested benefits, others have found that women who eat a healthy diet have no need for multivitamins, and that vitamins may even do some harm, especially when their use is continued late into a pregnancy.
It was that ‘late into a pregnancy’ bit that had me thinking. Following that link I discovered a UK based research paper about taking supplements and the relationship with birth outcomes in which they studied 1,274 pregnant women (to be precise), their vitamin intake habits and their maternity records. This is what they found:
Taking any type of daily supplement during any trimester was not significantly associated with size at birth… Women taking multivitamin-mineral supplements in the third trimester were more likely to experience preterm birth.
What’s a girl to do? The instructions on my box of vitamins say “for pregnancy through to breast-feeding”. But then it would say that as they want to sell more. I have certainly not been taking vitamins everyday, I kept forgetting from about 20 weeks onwards. And, I’m also not beating myself up about it – I think with this amount of conflicting evidence around I’m going to stick to eating my vitamins and I’ll take a supplement when I remember. What are you doing?