London: Vitamin pills can help women conceive, according to a new study which found that almost twice as many patients who took the tablets during fertility treatment had babies compared to those not on supplements.
The pilot study, which is now being replicated in a larger trial, was carried out by a team led by Indian-origin researcher Dr Rina Agrawal, a consultant and associate professor in reproductive medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology at the University hospitals of Warwickshire and Warwick University.
Women taking pregnancy vitamin supplements have a higher chance of conceiving, research suggests. They are also more likely to get pregnant more quickly than women taking folic acid supplements on their own.
Published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine online, the research found that women taking the supplement were more than twice as likely to get pregnant with a viable pregnancy than women taking folic acid.
A viable pregnancy was regarded as a foetus with a heartbeat and a pregnancy that lasted beyond the first 12 weeks.
The research was carried out on 58 subfertile women, who were split into two groups, with one group receiving the vitamin and the other receiving folic acid.
All the women had healthy, balanced diets as recorded in food diaries.
At the start of the study, they either did not have regular periods, which was impacting on their ability to conceive, or had 12 months of unexplained infertility.
The vitamin group was given a daily standard dose of Pregnacare Conception while the other group received a daily standard dose of folic acid.
The results showed that 60 per cent of women taking Pregnacare Conception got pregnant (18 out of 30) compared to 25 per cent of those taking folic acid (11 out of 28).
Women on Pregnacare also took far fewer attempts to get pregnant than those on folic acid.
Fifteen women conceived on their first attempt, four on their second and one on her third.
This compared to two women in the folic acid group getting pregnant on their first attempt, two on their second attempt and seven on their third attempt.
There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in rates of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
The groups were matched for factors such as age, weight, duration of infertility and likelihood polycystic ovary syndrome.
Women who were heavy drinkers, smokers or whose partners had semen abnormalities were excluded.
Dr Agrawal said it was "highly significant" that women on Pregnacare took half the number of attempts to get pregnant than those taking folic acid.
She said the findings showed that taking a supplement was a clinical and cost-effective fertility treatment without any side effects.
She said she would "absolutely" recommend that women in the general population wishing to conceive take a pregnancy supplement.
She said: "All women considering pregnancy should take a specially-formulated prenatal micronutrient supplement including folic acid and vitamin B12.
"There is a large body of evidence establishing the relationship between placental development, foetal growth, pregnancy outcomes and adequate nutrition, particularly vitamin intake."