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Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2006 May-Jun;51(3):106-15.

Micronutrients in women's reproductive health: I. Vitamins.

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Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Clinical Center of Serbia Medical School, University of Belgrade, Serbia. okontic@sezampro.yu


Proper nutritional status of women before, during, and after pregnancy is an important element of reproductive health. It maintains maternal health and reduces the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome, birth defects and chronic disease in children later in postnatal life. Pregnancy creates a special metabolic demand for high-quality nutrients. With careful food selection, it is possible to obtain most of the recommended levels of nutrients. Apart from the dietary intake, nutrition is highly dependant on economic status, social and cultural environment, and personal habits of the mother. Nutritional imbalance could cause detrimental effects to the pregnant woman, influence pregnancy outcome, and impair breast milk composition. Despite the extensive research, we still do not have a complete understanding how nutritional status of the mother influences her health as well as fetal growth and development. It is well known that fetal growth and development is strongly linked with maternal supply of essential nutrients, e.g. vitamins. The exact role of the variety of micronutrients in fetal growth and development has yet to be explored in detail. It is estimated that up to 30% of pregnant women suffer from a vitamin deficiency. Without supplementation, about 75% would show a deficit of at least one vitamin. Moreover, multivitamin deficit combinations often co-exist, and subclinical depletations are probably common; consequences could be severe. Studies carried on in developing countries have shown that improving micronutrient intake in deficient women can reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Also, proper maternal intake of important micronutrients directly enhances the quality of breast milk. To meet the increasing demands during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period women should not be dependent only upon the dietary intake: adequate reserve is essential for the successful pregnancy outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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