Pregnancy multivitamins are 'a waste of money', say researchers
Pregnancy multivitamins are a waste of money, British researchers have concluded.
A review found "no evidence" that multivitamins result in better health for a mother or her baby and were an "unnecessary expense".
Instead, experts said women should focus on taking the single vitamins - which are available for a few pence per day - recommended by the NHS.
These are folic acid in the first three months of pregnancy, and vitamin D. They should also follow a healthy diet.
Pregnancy multivitamins can cost more than £15 (€17) a month. On Boots.com, Pregnacare tablets plus Omega 3 cost £15.29 (€18) for a 28-day supply. Pregnacare Max - described as the "ultimate formula" in the range - costs £19.69 (€23.18) for a 28-day supply of tablets.
Regular Pregnacare costs £4.45 (€5.24) for a 30-day supply, while Boots' own brand Pregnancy Support Plus with fish oil costs £12.99 (€15.30) for a 30-day supply. Boots Pregnancy Support vitamins cost £3.49 (€4.11) for 30 tablets and Seven Seas Pregnancy tablets cost £5.25 (€6.18) for 28 tablets.
Seven Seas Pregnancy Plus with Omega 3 tablets cost £14.99 (€17.66) for a 28-day supply.
The vitamins come with various marketing literature, including saying they provide all the "nutrients vital for both mother and baby", and "all the essential nutrients for pregnancy".
In the new research, published in the 'Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin', a large panel of experts in the field reviewed available evidence on folic acid, vitamin D, iron, vitamins C, E, A, and multivitamins in pregnancy.
They found good evidence for the use of folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and some evidence - although "less clear cut" - for the use of vitamin D, which is important for bone and tooth formation and the ability to absorb calcium.
But the experts found "no evidence" that women should take multivitamins, which often contain 20 or more vitamins and minerals.
They added: "For most women who are planning to become pregnant or who are pregnant, complex multivitamin and mineral preparations promoted for use during pregnancy are unlikely to be needed and are an unnecessary expense."