Folate Ain't Helping

A new study claims folate does not reduce the risk of premature birth

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to a new study, folate may not protect against premature birth, as was previously thought.

Folate is a B vitamin that occurs naturally in food. Folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) is found in supplements and added to certain food products.

Using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, Verena Senpiel, M.D., and colleagues assessed the folate intake of mothers at 17, 22, and 30 weeks of pregnancy. The researchers compared 955 cases of spontaneous preterm delivery to 18,075 cases of normal delivery.

The results showed no link between the time of delivery and the amount of folate intake of the mother. Even after separating women into groups of high folate intake or low folate intake, there was still no association between folate supplementation and premature delivery. Furthermore, the length of time of folate supplementation had no relation to premature delivery.

On the whole, the study shows that folate intake has no effect on premature delivery.

Every year, over half a million babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) in the United States. Premature births - also called preterm births - are the main cause of death among newborns. Premature infants who do survive have an increased chance of developing many lifelong health complications, compared to fully matured newborns. In the United States, preterm births account for $26 billion in health care costs per year.

Findings from the study were recently presented at The Pregnancy Meeting™, the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 14, 2011
Last Updated:
February 15, 2011