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Studies proof that taking multivitamins daily, as well before as after conception, greatly reduces the risk of miscarriage.

According to a new study, a woman is more likely to suffer an abortion if she and her partner usually drink more than two caffeine consisting beverages a day during the weeks leading up to conception. Women who drink more than two caffeinated beverages daily during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, are also more likely to have an abortion. This study is realised by researchers at the National Institute of Health and the Ohio State University Columbus in the United States.

However, women who take a multivitamin daily before the moment of conception and during the early pregnancy, are less likely to have an abortion than women who did not: “Our results provide useful information for couples who are planning a pregnancy and who want to minimize the risk of loss during early pregnancy,” said the study’s lead author Ph.D. Germaine Buck Louis, director of the Division of Intramural Research for Population Health at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Eunice Kennedy Shriver of the NIH.

The researchers analyzed data from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE), which was established to examine the relationship between fertility, lifestyle and exposure to environmental chemicals. The LIFE study enrolled 501 couples between 2005 and 2009. The couples were from four counties in Michigan and twelve counties in Texas.

For the current study the researchers compared lifestyle factors such as cigarette consumption, consumption of caffeinated beverages and the use of multivitamins among 344 couples with single pregnancy. The research was performed during the weeks before conception and until the seventh week of pregnancy.

The study yielded the results using a statistical concept known as ‘risk quotient’, which estimates the chances of a particular health outcome occurring during the studied time frame. For example, researchers evaluated the consumption of caffeinated beverages in terms of the daily probability of abortion during a given period of time. A score above 1 indicates a high risk of pregnancy loss after conception, and a score of less than 1 indicates a reduced daily risk.

Of the 344 pregnancies, 98 ended in miscarriage, which is equivalent to 28%. For the period prior to conception, miscarriages were associated with the age of the woman of 35 years or older, for a risk ratio of 1.96 (almost double the risk of miscarriages for younger women). The authors of the study cite possible explanations for the increased risk, such as advanced age of sperm or ovum of older couples. Other examples are cumulative exposure to substances from the environment, which is to be expected with increasing age.

For both men and women, the consumption of more than two caffeinated beverages per day was also associated with an increase in the risk ratio: 1.74 for women and 1.73 for men. Previous studies, the authors note, have documented the increase in abortions associated with caffeine consumption during the early stages of pregnancy. However, these studies could not fully confirm whether caffeine consumption actually contributed to the loss of pregnancies or was only a sign of a unhealthy pregnancy. According to the authors, it is possible that the obtained results may have been the result of unhealthy pregnancies beyond the interference of caffeine consumption. For example, increased aversion to food and vomiting, associated with a healthy pregnancy, may have led women to give up caffeinated beverages, and thus reach successful births.

The research found that caffeine consumption before pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Drinking caffeinated beverages during this time is more likely to directly contribute to pregnancy loss: “Our results indicate as well that the consumption of caffeinated beverages also concern the male partner,” said Dr. Buck Louis. The consumption of caffeinated beverages by men before conception is equally strong associated with the loss of pregnancy for women.

Finally, the researchers observed a reduction in the risk of miscarriage for women who took a daily multivitamin. During the preconception period they found a relative risk of 0.45, a 55% reduction in the risk of pregnancy loss. Women who continued taking vitamins during early pregnancy had a relative risk of 0.21 or a risk reduction of 79%. The authors cite other studies that found that vitamin B6 and folic acid, included in vitamin formulations prior to conception and pregnancy, can reduce the risk of miscarriage. Therefore, folic acid supplements can be recommended for women of childbearing age since its use in the weeks before and after conception reduces the risk of having an embryo with neural tube defects.