Washington: A new study has found that taking multivitamins daily during pregnancy results in longer pregnancies bigger, healthier babies.
According to the large randomized trial conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, supplements containing 15 vitamins and minerals given daily to pregnant women in rural Bangladesh reduced pre-term births, increased infant birth weight and resulted in healthier babies overall.
The findings, suggest that a supplement containing 15 essential micronutrients is superior to the current standard of care in many developing countries, which calls for pregnant women to take supplements containing iron and folic acid.
Study leader Keith P. West Jr., DrPH said that that the supplements increase birth size because the babies stay in the womb longer and hence they are born a little larger and better equipped to handle life outside the womb.
For this study, a large research team in the Johns Hopkins JiVitA Project recruited roughly 45,000 pregnant women in rural Bangladesh beginning in December 2007, and assigned them to receive either a daily multivitamin or an iron-folic acid supplement. The women were followed through their pregnancies and, for those who gave birth, at one, three and six months after their children were born. There were roughly 14,000 live births in each group in the trial, with other pregnancies lost to miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth.
West says that while infant mortality rates at six months of age were roughly the same in each group, the research suggests that girls born to mothers receiving the vitamin and mineral preparation may have survived better than girls whose mothers received only iron and folic acid. Of note: This did not happen in boys, requiring further data analysis to fully understand why.
The study is published in JAMA.