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Folate May Not Protect Against Premature Birth
Date:2/10/2011

fortified in Norway as they are in the United States. Previous research in Norway has found that the average folate intake is about 250 micrograms, compared to the recommended 400 micrograms daily, she noted.

The researchers divided the women into two groups based on their dietary folate intake, low or high, but they found no association between folate consumption and the rate of preterm delivery.

Sengpiel is scheduled to present the findings Thursday at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting in San Francisco.

Experts note that research presented at meetings typically has not been subjected to the same scrutiny as studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Of the differences between her study and previous findings, Sengpiel said that a number of factors could explain the difference. First, she noted that the study populations were quite different, and there may be some genetic factors at play. Second, the study designs were different. The studies that have found benefit for preterm birth rates looked at women who were getting sufficient folate for at least one year prior to conception.

"This is an interesting study, but I don't know that this study will lay to rest the idea that folate might lower the risk of preterm birth," said Dr. Peter Bernstein, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and women's health at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Bernstein also suggested that the rate of preterm birth may be lower in Norway than in the United States, which may also account for some of the difference in the studies.

His advice to women is to "continue taking a multivitamin that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid."

More information

Learn more about folic acid and its benefits when taken before and during pregnancy from the March of Dim
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