January 23, 2007
Contact: Jerry Carey
UMDNJ Research Connects Vitamin E Use to Bigger Babies
STRATFORD — A study by researchers at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine has uncovered an important connection between a common vitamin and the birth weight of babies, a discovery that could significantly impact the future cost of health care. The study, which involved more than 1,200 pregnant women in Camden, showed a direct relationship between the vitamin E levels in the women’ s blood and the size of their babies at birth. The researchers’ findings were recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/84/6/1442).
“Higher concentrations of vitamin E were associated with several indicators for fetal growth, including increased birth weight and a reduced risk of infants that were small for their gestational age,” said Dr. Theresa Scholl, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the medical school and the lead author of the study. “Previous studies have shown that low birth weight babies face increased risks of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease later in life. So maintaining an adequate level of vitamin E during pregnancy could have a chance at being a primary means of preventing chronic disease in adults.”
For this study, the researchers measured the levels of two forms of vitamin E in the blood of the pregnant women at the beginning of the study and during the 28th week of pregnancy. The highest birth weights occurred in those women who had the highest levels of the type of vitamin E routinely contained in vitamin supplements. The researchers theorized that vitamin E could be associated with increase in fetal growth because it helps to increase blood flow and nutrient supply to the fetus. The study does not recommend additional supplements for pregnant women as more research is needed to verify if vitamin E actually causes an increase in birth weight or is a biomarker for other maternal factors.
To request an interview with Dr. Scholl, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.