Dietary Calcium for Teen Mothers Improves Folate Levels

Dairy supplementation improves maternal serum folate, increases newborn weight and total body calcium

FRIDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Calcium diet supplementation with dairy results in higher vitamin D and folate levels in young pregnant mothers and increased bone mineralization and weight in their newborns compared with standard diets, according to a report in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Gary M. Chan, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, randomized 72 pregnant mothers, ages 15 to 17, to either control, orange juice fortified with calcium, or dairy, to evaluate the effects of dietary calcium intervention on teen mothers and their newborns.

Subjects receiving either fortified orange juice or dairy had up to twofold higher calcium intake than controls, but only the dairy group showed higher serum folate and vitamin D levels. Infants in the dairy group weighed an average of 3,517 grams and were heavier than those in the control and fortified orange juice groups (3,277 and 3,292 grams, respectively), and had higher total body calcium than control infants.

"This finding may be clinically significant, because adequate folate nutrition is important in preventing neural tube defects in the fetus during pregnancy," the authors write.

The study was partially supported by the National Dairy Council.

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