Send to

Choose Destination
J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Sep;117(9):1429-1436. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 May 29.

Is Nutrient Content and Other Label Information for Prescription Prenatal Supplements Different from Nonprescription Products?

Erratum in



Prenatal supplements are often recommended to pregnant women to help meet their nutrient needs. Many products are available, making it difficult to choose a suitable supplement because little is known about their labeling and contents to evaluate their appropriateness.


To determine differences between prescription and nonprescription prenatal supplements available in the United States regarding declared nutrient and nonnutrient ingredients and the presence of dosing and safety-related information.


Using two publicly available databases with information about prenatal supplement products, information from prescription and nonprescription product labels were extracted and evaluated. For the 82 prescription and 132 nonprescription products, declared label amounts of seven vitamins and minerals, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the presence of other nonnutrient components, and the presence of key safety and informational elements as identified in two Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG)'s 2003 reports were compiled and compared.


Compared with nonprescription products, prescription products contained significantly fewer vitamins (9±0.2 vs 11±0.3; P≤0.05) and minerals (4±0.1 vs 8±0.3; P≤0.05). Declared amounts of folic acid were higher in prescription products, whereas vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine, and calcium were higher in the nonprescription products. Amounts of iron, zinc, and DHA were similar. Virtually all products contained levels of one or more nutrients that exceeded the Recommended Dietary Allowances for pregnant and/or lactating women. Product type also influenced ingredients added. Fewer prescription products contained botanical ingredients (6% prescription vs 33% nonprescription) and probiotics (2% prescription vs 8% nonprescription). Only prescription products contained the stool softener docusate sodium.


Our analysis of prenatal supplements indicates that prescription and nonprescription supplements differ in terms of declared composition and nutrient strength, but have labels that are similarly sparse regarding aspects of use such as dosing information.


Labeling; Nonprescription; Nutrients; Prenatal supplements; Prescription

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center