Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Moms and vitamins

A new study reports that women who take multivitamins before and during pregnancy may be less likely to have children who develop brain tumors in early childhood.

Greta Bunin and her team from the Children's Hospital Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania found that their study combined with previous work link moms' multivitamin use with lower risk of kids' brain tumors.

The study indicated that mothers who reported taking multivitamins close to the time of conception were 30% less likely to have a child diagnosed with a brain tumor before the child's 6th birthday.

Bunin studied 315 children aged 0-5 years with a brain tumor called medulloblastoma. To make a comparison they also interviewed mothers of 315 children without brain tumors.

There is no promise that vitamins will prevent kids' brain tumors nor will all women not taking multivitamins have children with tumors. Brain tumors are rare in children (about one in 20,000 children), and doctors don't always know the reason they occur.

Pharmacist Paul Scavone (correspondence dated October 2, 2006) suggests these tips for anyone looking for a multivitamin.
  • Get enough folate. Men need 600 mcg; most women 800 mcg; and pregnant and nursing women 1000 mcg.
  • Don't use time-release vitamins, because you don't always get the contents of the vitamins. It is better to take vitamins throughout the day.
  • Avoid too much iron. There is no mechanism for excreting iron once it's absorbed into the body. Iron is either used or stored and excessive storage of iron in the body causes free radicals which may cause of cancer and heart disease. It also increases the risk of bacterial infection.

SOURCES: Bunin, G. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, September 2006; vol 15: pp 1660-1667. News release, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.