The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Vitamins C and E and the risk of preterm birth

    Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks. A premature birth takes place more than 3 weeks before the due date. Although the rate of premature birth seems to be on the rise, a healthy lifestyle helps prevent preterm labor and premature birth.

    Researchers in the US collaborated to determine whether pregnant women taking vitamins C and E might lower their risk of spontaneous preterm birth.

    First, the details.

    • 10,154 women, pregnant for the first time and at low risk, were randomly assigned to a treatment group from 9 to 16 weeks of gestation until delivery.
      • 1,000 mg vitamin C + 400 international units vitamin E daily
      • Placebo
    • Preterm birth attributable to premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and total spontaneous preterm births (spontaneous preterm birth attributable to PROM or spontaneous labor) were recorded.
    • Neither the women nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

    And, the results.

    • In women supplemented with vitamins C and E, births attributed to preterm PROM were similar at less than 37 and 35 weeks of gestation, but births were less frequent before 32 weeks of gestation.
    • However, total spontaneous preterm births across gestation in women supplemented with vitamins C and E or a placebo were similar.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Maternal supplementation with vitamins C and E beginning at 9 to 16 weeks of gestation in nulliparous [never having given birth to a child] women at low risk did not reduce spontaneous preterm births.

    “Low risk” women is the key to understanding this study.

    Most studies report that low body mass index (BMI) is a strong risk factor for spontaneous preterm birth. Whether this relationship is due to a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency associated with low caloric consumption or to other factors is unknown. This research suggests that in the absence of risk factors, vitamin C and E supplements appear to offer no additional benefit.

    8/30/10 19:42 JR

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