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Antioxidants May Not Boost Conception Rates

Update Date: Aug 05, 2013 10:34 AM EDT

Doctors often advise women undergoing fertility treatment to take supplements, such as antioxidants, to boost their chances of conception.  However, new research reveals that there is no conclusive evidence that shows that antioxidants help increase a woman's chances of having a baby.

The new study found that women were no more likely to conceive when taking oral antioxidants. What's more, researchers pointed out that there was limited information about potential harms.

Researchers said that many antioxidant supplements taken to improve fertility are often unregulated and that there is limited evidence on their safety and effects.

After analyzing data from 28 trials involving a total of 3,548 women attending fertility clinics, researchers found that antioxidants did not increase the women's chances of becoming pregnant.

Study results revealed that there was no significant increase in women becoming pregnant when taking antioxidants compared to those taking placebos or being given standard treatment, including folic acid.

"There is no evidence in this review that suggests taking an antioxidant is beneficial for women who are trying to conceive," lead researcher, Marian Showell, who works in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand, said in a news release.

Half of the trials in the study reported on adverse effects like miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Researchers noted that these studies did not link antioxidants to more adverse effects.

Showell and her team noted that the quality of the trails were considered to be low of very low and the number of different antioxidants tested made it difficult to make comparisons.

"We could not assess whether one antioxidant was better than another," said Showell.

The findings are published in The Cochrane Library.

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