Newly pregnant women are often in a hurry to start taking prenatal supplements as soon as they discover they are pregnant. While they certainly should, it is often too late to provide some of the important preventive benefits of multivitamins which are crucial BEFORE conception.
In the opinion of many experts, all women of childbearing age should be taking a good multivitamin in addition to following a healthy diet. While multivitamins will not completely ensure a premature birth won’t happen, why not take care of your health (and your baby’s) and lessen the risk?
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that the use of multivitamin supplements by women prior to becoming pregnant was associated with fewer preterm deliveries. Preterm birth is defined as birth at less than 37 weeks of gestation and is associated with a lower rate of infant survival during the first year of life.
Researchers utilized data from the Pregnancy, Infection and Nutrition Study which recruited 2,010 women during weeks 24 through 29 of pregnancy. They compared the incidence of preterm delivery among women who took multivitamins prior to conception, before conception and during pregnancy, during pregnancy only, or not at all.
Women who took a multivitamin supplement before conception had half the risk of early and late preterm delivery than those who took no vitamins. Women who used multivitamins only during pregnancy had approximately the same amount of preterm births when compared to women who took none at all.
This study, as well as many previous studies, reinforces the concern that waiting until pregnancy is confirmed may be too late for nutritional intervention to benefit many pregnancy outcomes.