Abstract

The objective of this study was to examine the association of prenatal multivitamin/mineral supplement use during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy by low income, urban women in the Camden Study (1985/1995, n = 1,430) and preterm delivery (<37 completed weeks) and infant low birth weight (<2,500 g). Prenatal supplement use was corroborated by assay of circulating micronutrients at entry to care (no differences) and week 28 gestation (increased concentrations of folate and ferritin for supplement users). Compared with women who entered care during the first or second trimester but did not use prenatal supplements, supplement use starting in the first or second trimester was associated with approximately a twofold reduction in risk of preterrn delivery. After controlling for potential confounding variables, risk of very preterm delivery (<33 weeks' gestation) was reduced more than fourfold for first trimester users and approximately twofold when use dated from the second trimester. Infant low birth weight and very low birth weight (<1,500 g) risks were also reduced. Risk of low birth weight was reduced approximately twofold with supplement use during the first and second trimester. Diminution in risk was greater for very low birth weight infants, amounting to a sevenfold reduction in risk of very low birth weight with first trimester supplementation and a greater than sixfold reduction when supplement use started in the second trimester. Thus, in low income, urban women, use of prenatal multivitamin/mineral supplements may have the potential to diminish infant morbidity and mortality. Am J Epidemiol 1997;146:134-41.