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Mother & Child

Nutrients, before and during pregnancy, promote healthy births

Folic acid, multivitamins, healthy hearts

Women who took either folic acid or multivitamins, during or before conception, were more likely to give birth to children with healthy hearts compared to women not taking these supplements. In this study, doctors measured folic acid and multivitamin-mineral supplements in 63,939 mothers with a single birth between 2013 and 2018.

Overall, babies whose mothers took folic acid separately, or as part of a multivitamin-mineral supplement, were less likely to have congenital heart defects (CHD), especially critical defects. Children whose mothers began taking the supplements before conception had the greatest protection.

For mothers who took folic acid, their children were 59 percent less likely to have a critical CHD; 53 percent less likely to have a ventricular septal defect, and 40 percent less likely to have any CHD at all. When mothers took either supplement before conception, chances for a critical CHD declined by 74 percent.

Reference: Journal of Pediatrics; 2021, Vol. 9, No. 4, Published Online

DHA promotes full-term births

Women who supplemented with 1,000 mg of DHA per day beginning at 12 to 20 weeks pregnant, were much less likely to have a pre-term birth than women taking a lower dose. This is the first study to compare higher-dose DHA with the 200 mg in most prenatal supplements. In this study, doctors compared early pre-term births—those before 34 weeks—between women on the two different doses of DHA.

Overall, 1.7 percent of women taking 1,000 mg of DHA had a pre-term birth compared to 2.4 percent of women taking 200 mg. Benefits were greatest among women who began the study with low levels of DHA, with pre-term births of 2 percent for those taking 1,000 mg compared to 4.1 percent for women on the 200 mg dose. Doctors said this “dramatic decrease” in early pre-term births is “a game changer for obstetricians and their patients.”

Reference: Lancet-EClinicalMedicine; 2021, 100905, Published Online


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