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A Multivitamin a Day Keeps Birth Defects Away

As if diabetes isn't challenging enough, evidence suggests that pregnant women who suffer from the condition also have an increased chance that their children will be born with birth defects. However, there is hope: A recent study provides evidence that multivitamin supplementation can help prevent birth defects.

In the study, researchers obtained information on maternal diabetes and multivitamin use from the mothers of 3,278 babies born with diabetes-associated birth defects, and 3,029 infants with no defects. Mothers were asked if they had taken multivitamin supplements at any time in the three months prior to conception, through the first three months of pregnancy. Based on their responses, the mothers were divided into four categories: nonusers; users during the six-month period; users at other times; and unknown.

Data analysis indicated that while infants of mothers with diabetes were at increased risk for suffering birth defects, this risk was limit to the infants of diabetic mothers who reported no multivitamin supplementation in the three months before pregnancy or the first three months of pregnancy.

If you're planning to have a child, or are already pregnant, it's important to schedule regular visits with your doctor. Diet and exercise modifications are just a few of the many considerations that will help ensure a smooth pregnancy. You and your child deserve nothing less.

And if you're not convinced by the results of this single study, bear in mind that ample evidence links multivitamin supplementation (particularly supplementation with folic acid) to a reduced risk of infant birth defects.

To read summaries of the previous research, go to


Correa A, Botto L, Liu Y, et al. Do multivitamin supplements attenuate the risk for diabetes-associated birth defects? Pediatrics May 2003:111(5), pp1146-51.

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