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Vitamin B12 Deficiency In Pregnant Mothers Linked To Increased Risk Of Preterm Birth

Update Date: Jan 25, 2017 10:27 PM EST
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Lack of vitamin B12 in the diet may increase the risk of preterm birth among pregnant women, a new study suggests. A team of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has found that vitamin B12 deficiency among pregnant women may have dramatic consequences on the fetus.

In the study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers studied about 11,216 pregnancies in 11 countries. They found that low levels of vitamin B12, commonly found in animal products, were linked to increased risks of having preterm labor and preterm births.

Across the globe, low birth weight and preterm births cause half of all infant deaths in the first 28 days after birth. Doctors are emphasizing the importance of maternal diet in the health and well-being of the developing fetus.

They also found that low levels of vitamin B12 did not seem to affect the infant's birth weight. However, it increased the risk of preterm birth by 21 percent. Moreover, the results of the study were not affected by whether the pregnant women were from high, middle or low average incomes.

Vegans At Risk

According to the researchers, in countries where there are more vegetarian diets like India, the percentage of pregnant women with the vitamin deficiency can exceed two-thirds.

"Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found only in products of animal origin such as meat, milk and eggs. Pregnant women who consume too few animal-derived foods increase their risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency," Tormod Rogne, lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Good Sources Of Vitamin B12

Health reports that despite the fact that B vitamins is easy to acquire just by eating a balanced and healthy diet, vitamin B12 is found naturally only in animal sources.

Vitamin B12 is vital in helping the body produce DNA and red blood cells. The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms and 2.6 micrograms if you're pregnant.

Good sources of this vitamin are liver, mackerel, sardines, salmon, seafood, red meat, fortified cereals and milk, among others.

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