Women who took a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin daily before becoming pregnant cut their risk in half of suffering a miscarriage, according to new research released this week.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University followed for a year 501 couples in Michigan and Texas who were trying to become pregnant. The couples kept a daily record of their alcohol and caffeinated beverage consumption, their cigarette smoking, and their use of multivitamins or prenatal vitamins.
Of the 344 couples who conceived a child, 98, or 28 percent, miscarried. When the researchers analyzed the records of all the participants to see what might have accounted for the miscarriages, three factors stood out.
Women older than 34 were twice as likely to miscarry.
Women who took a daily multivitamin or prenatal vitamin before becoming pregnant or during the first two months of their pregnancies were on average half as likely to miscarry as women who didn’t take these supplements daily. The researchers called this impact “tremendous.”
And women who consumed more than two caffeinated beverages a day (coffee, tea, or soft drinks) before conceiving or during the first two months of their pregnancies had roughly double the risk of miscarrying as women who didn’t consume caffeine.
Unlike some previous studies that asked women to try to recall how much caffeine they consumed before and during their past pregnancies, this new study relied on daily record keeping rather than on memories which can be faulty. That gives this study more credence.
Of course, in observational studies like this, there could be another factor other than multivitamin use or caffeine intake that the researchers didn’t account for which might be the real cause of the miscarriages.
Couples should be advised “to limit caffeinated intake to fewer than 3 daily beverages irrespective of source, and that women should continue to take daily multivitamins before and during pregnancy,” the researchers concluded.
Source: Germaine M. Buck Louis et al. Lifestyle and Pregnancy Loss in a Contemporary Cohort of Women Recruited Prior to Conception, LIFE Study. 2016.
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