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Keywords:

  • congenital anomaly;
  • fetal morbidity;
  • iron-deficiency anaemia;
  • maternal morbidity;
  • National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence;
  • neural tube defects

Key content

  • Pregnant women should take 400 micrograms/day of folic acid periconceptionally.
  • High-dose vitamins C and E are not recommended.
  • All pregnant women are now advised to take vitamin D supplements.
  • Less than 50% of pregnant women in the UK take the vitamins recommended for pregnancy.
  • Further collaborative research is required to understand the role of other vitamins in improving maternal and perinatal wellbeing in high and low-resourced countries.

Learning objectives

  • To understand the role of vitamins in pregnancy.
  • To gain an overview of recommendations on vitamin supplementation in pregnancy.
  • To be aware of the benefits and harm of vitamin supplementation in pregnancy.

Ethical Issues

  • Is it appropriate to identify women at risk of vitamin deficiency based on parameters such as ethnicity and body mass index?
  • How should potential benefits and harms be balanced for mother and fetus when considering vitamin supplementation in pregnancy?
  • Is it ethical to consider food fortification with vitamins for the benefit of one group (pregnant women) when there may be harm for other groups (older persons)?