Lack of vitamin C may trigger premature delivery

January 22, 2002 in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Lack of vitamin C may trigger premature delivery

Women who get little vitamin C both before and during their pregnancies appear to be more susceptible to premature rupture of the membrane attached to the placenta, leading to an increased risk of premature delivery, say researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Vitamin C plays a role in the structure of collagen in the fetal membrane, and when it's not there, it makes the membrane weaker.

The researchers studied 2,247 pregnant women and found a strong relationship between a lack of vitamin C in a woman's diet and a tendency toward rupturing the placental membrane.

Women who consumed the lowest amount of vitamin C consumers before pregnancy (less than 21 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C daily) had twice the risk of suffering a premature ruptured membrane during their pregnancy. Women who consumed the least vitamin C users during their second trimester of pregnancy (less than 65 mg of vitamin C daily) were at 70% increased risk of suffering a premature ruptured membrane.

The researchers found that only 28% of the women said they had taken vitamin C supplements before pregnancy, while 80% reported taking a multivitamin by the 30th week of pregnancy. The study's results suggest that starting vitamins after becoming pregnant is not enough to ward off rupture risk. The best advice is for women to take a multivitamin preconceptually and throughout pregnancy, the researchers said.

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