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Multivitamins in pregnancy ‘pointless for most’

Multivitamins and mineral supplements in pregnancy are an “unnecessary expense” with no proven benefits for most well-nourished women or their babies, said a review of science data Tuesday.

Such supplements are heavily marketed to women in all stages of pregnancy as a means of warding off health problems, said the analysis.

Pregnant women are a soft target for products which promise to give their baby the best start in life “regardless of cost”, said the authors.

And while daily doses of a B vitamin called folic acid, and vitamin D to a lesser degree, are known to be beneficial, there is no evidence that cocktails stuffed full of other vitamins are protective.

Some may even be harmful, said the paper: high doses of vitamin A can harm a developing fetus.

Multivitamin and mineral supplements typically contain 20 or more active ingredients.

“We found no evidence to recommend that all pregnant women should take prenatal multi-nutrient supplements beyond the nationally (British) advised folic acid and vitamin D supplements, generic versions of which can be purchased relatively inexpensively,” said the review authors.

The analysis was published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, which informs British doctors and pharmacists about treatment and disease management.

The focus, said the paper, should be on promoting a healthy diet and boosting access to folic acid supplements for lower income women.

“For most women who are planning to become pregnant or who are pregnant, complex multivitamin and mineral preparations promoted for use during pregnancy are unlikely to be needed and are an unnecessary expense,” the authors wrote. (AFP)