97 percent of the women polled had taken at least one supplement during their pregnancy, and almost two thirds had started before getting pregnant. The doses, though, varied enormously within the group in question: The intake of folic acid ranged between 0.2 and 5 mg per day, and for iron-based products the range was even larger, between 4 and 600 mg per day 150 times the smallest dose recorded. Age, ethnic origin, level of education and the number of pregnancies had only a negligible influence on the general supplementation behavior of the women. However, good consultation did make a difference. Over 40 percent of the women polled named their gynecologist as the most important source of information when it comes to dietary supplements.
"The details give food for thought for example, regarding the intake of folic acid, which can prevent neural tube defects in newborns," says professor Hans Hauner. Over 85 percent of the women polled had indeed supplemented their diet with folic acid during the first trimester of their pregnancy. Yet only just over a third had followed the recommendation to begin supplementing their diet with at least 0.4 mg per day at least four weeks before becoming pregnant. This means in many cases the folic acid intake was started too late but then, very frequently the dose was too high. Around 8 percent of the women took more than 1 mg per day significantly more than the recommended amount. Professor Hauner: "This can conceal a vitamin B-12 deficiency and should thus be avoided." The situation is much better with regard to iodine according to the TUM researchers: A quarter of the women polled took the trace element, which is so important for the development of an unborn child's brain, prior to becoming pregnant, and almost four fifths took it during pregnancy.
On the other hand, iron supplementation important for the oxygen supply of the fetus seems to be far too high. "Of the women polled, aroun
|Contact: Jana Bodicky|
Technische Universitaet Muenchen