To describe the use of dietary vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements before and during pregnancy.
Materials and Methods
Pregnant women attending for antenatal care at two tertiary Sydney hospitals between January and March 2014 completed an anonymous survey. Information on general maternal and pregnancy characteristics and the use of dietary and herbal supplements, including type, duration and sources of information, was collected. Frequency and contingency tabulations were performed.
A total of 612 women agreed to participate (91% response rate). Of 589 women included in the analysis, mean gestational age at the time of survey was 28.5 weeks (SD 8.3), 55% had no children, and 67% were tertiary‐educated. Overall, 62.9% of women reported taking a multivitamin (MV) and/or folic acid (FA) supplement in the 3 months prepregnancy, and 97.5% took a MV and/or FA in the first trimester. At the time of the survey, 93.8% of women were taking at least one supplement (median 2, range 1–13). During pregnancy, 79.1% of women were taking MVs, including 59.2% taking MV only and 19.9% taking MV and FA. The five most common supplements outside of a MV were FA (31%), iron (30%), vitamin D (23%), calcium (13%) and fish oil (12%). Reported herbal supplement rates were low.
Folic acid, MVs and other supplements use during and prepregnancy is relatively high, although prepregnancy FA supplementation rates could still be improved. Further research on the actual dosages and dietary intakes consumed is needed to examine whether pregnant women have adequate intake of nutrients, regardless of supplement use.