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VITAMINS BEFORE PREGNANCY NOW URGED

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by Alison Hogan

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 Women who take multivitamins early in pregnancy may reduce the risk that their child will develop some types of brain tumors, according to a study out of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

   Pregnant women are already urged to take multivitamins that contain folic acid early in pregnancy to reduce their fetus's risk of developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. "This current study suggests another possible protective effect for the vitamins," said study leader Greta R. Bunin, Ph.D. "Children whose mothers took multivitamins close to the time of conception seemed less likely to suffer medulloblastoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumors of the brain."

   Taking multivitamins later in pregnancy did not significantly reduce the child's risk of these brain tumors. "Our findings suggest that the time close to conception may be a critical period," said Dr. Bunin. "However, most women do not yet know they are pregnant at this very early stage. That is why women of reproductive age are advised to take multivitamins to prevent neural tube defects even if they are not trying to get pregnant."

   In terms of a possible risk factor, the researchers also questioned mothers about how frequently they ate cured meats, such as ham, hot dogs, lunch meat, sausages and smoked fish. Although those foods contain compounds shown to cause nervous system tumors in animals, Dr. Bunin's team found no increased risk of brain tumors in children whose mothers frequently ate those meats while pregnant.


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