No Link Between Folate Intake and Risk for Preterm Birth

The study of more than 19,000 singleton births in Norway assessed the effect of the dietary and supplementary intake of folate from 6 months before pregnancy through the beginning of the third trimester, but found that it was not significantly related to spontaneous preterm delivery, said lead researcher Verena Sengpiel, MD, PhD, from the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Norway.

The investigators selected cases of preterm birth and control subjects from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which consists of nearly 73,000 children. Cases were defined as singleton live births with spontaneous onset of preterm delivery between 22 and 36 weeks of gestation, and controls were those who delivered between gestational weeks 39 and 40. Folate data were obtained from questionnaires completed by case and control mothers at gestational weeks 17, 22, and 30. The questionnaires included detailed questions on diet and the supplementary intake of folate.

Neither the amount of folate the women took previous to pregnancy or during it nor the time folate supplementation began was significantly associated with risk for preterm birth, Dr. Sengpiel noted. After dividing women into high and low dietary folate intake groups, the researchers found no significant association between folate intake and/or supplementation and preterm delivery in either group.

This summary is from Medscape Medical News, Reporting on Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) 31st Annual Meeting.  Abstract 12. Presented February 10, 2011.