SMFM Logo It is generally believed that dietary or supplementary folate intake protects against preterm delivery. Well, this may not be true when it comes to women from Norway. Scientists from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s (SMFM) claim that folate intake before and during pregnancy does not safeguard Norwegian women from spontaneous preterm delivery.

While conducting the study, investigators selected controls and cases from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study that encompassed 72,989 children. All the cases were defined as singleton live births with spontaneous onset of preterm delivery between 22 and 36 gestational weeks and after pregnancies without medical or obstetric complications. Even the controls were selected on the basis of the same criteria, except spontaneous onset of term delivery between gestational weeks 39 and 40.

Data on folate intake was gathered through questionnaires completed during gestational week 17, 22 and 30. Also a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire was filled in the second trimester. As a result, 955 cases of spontaneous preterm delivery and 18,075 controls were identified. Authors were unable to report any remarkable link between gestational age at delivery and the amount of dietary or supplementary folate intake.

“Sufficient folate intake has been studied as a possible protecting factor against spontaneous preterm delivery with conflicting results,” revealed Verena Sengpiel, M.D., one of the study authors. “Preterm delivery is the major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity worldwide and still difficult to predict and prevent. So when a recent American study found that preconceptional folate supplementation could reduce the risk for early spontaneous preterm delivery 50-70% we hoped to confirm these findings in another big cohort study.”

It was mentioned that folate supplementation is not significantly associated with spontaneous preterm delivery. Scientists then segregated women into groups of high or low dietary folate intake. None of the groups probably showed any dramatic relation between folate supplementation and spontaneous preterm delivery. Even the duration of folate supplementation was seemingly not linked with spontaneous preterm delivery. Experts conclude that folate intake does not offer any protection against spontaneous preterm delivery.

The study was presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting in San Francisco.