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Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Oct;94(4):577-82.

Maternal calcium supplementation and fetal bone mineralization.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee, Memphis, USA.



To determine the effect of maternal calcium supplementation during pregnancy on fetal bone mineralization.


Healthy mothers with early ultrasound confirmation of dates and singleton pregnancies were enrolled in a double-masked study and randomized before 22 weeks' gestation to 2 g/day of elemental calcium or placebo until delivery. Maternal dietary intake at randomization and at 32-33 weeks' gestation was recorded with 24-hour dietary recalls. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry measurements of the whole body and lumbar spine of the neonates were performed before hospital discharge.


The infants of 256 women (128 per group) had dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry measurements during the first week of life. There were no significant differences between treatment groups in gestational age, birth weight, or length of the infants, or in the total-body or lumbar spine bone mineral content. However, when bone mineral content was analyzed by treatment group within quintiles of maternal dietary calcium intake, total body bone mineral content (mean +/- standard error of the mean) was significantly greater in infants born to calcium-supplemented mothers (64.1+/-3.2 versus 55.7+/-2.7 g in the placebo group) in the lowest quintile of dietary calcium intake (less than 600 mg/day). The effect of calcium supplementation remained significant after adjustment for maternal age and maternal body mass index and after normalization for skeletal area and body length of the infant.


Maternal calcium supplementation of up to 2 g/day during the second and third trimesters can increase fetal bone mineralization in women with low dietary calcium intake. However, calcium supplementation in pregnant women with adequate dietary calcium intake is unlikely to result in major improvement in fetal bone mineralization.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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