Vol. 2, No. 3 , 1996, Page 7


Premature birth is a strong risk factor for criminality. Researchers recently reported (See Crime Times, Vol. 2, No. 2, Page 6) that the risk of prematurity can be cut in half by diagnosing and treating bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. Now a study by Theresa Scholl et al. suggests that supplementing expectant mothers' diets with folic acid also may dramatically reduce the rate of premature births.

Scholl et al. studied 832 inner-city pregnant women in Camden, New Jersey. "Women with a low mean daily folate intake," they report, ".had an approximately two-fold greater risk of preterm delivery and infant low birth weight after maternal characteristics, energy intake, and other correlated nutrients were controlled for."

Scholl and colleagues say their data are consistent with research showing that squirrel monkeys receiving folate supplements had larger infants, and with several human studies showing longer gestation periods or increased birth weight in children of mothers with adequate folate intake.

Noting that folic acid supplementation could "make a big difference" in the rate of premature birth in poor neighborhoods, Scholl commented in Science News that it's ironic that pregnant women "can buy candy and chewing gum with food stamps, but. aren't allowed to buy vitamins."


"Dietary and serum folate: their influence on the outcome of pregnancy," Theresa O. Scholl, Mary L. Hediger, Joan I. Schall, Chor-San Khoo, and Richard L. Fischer, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63, 1996, pp. 520-525. Address: Theresa Scholl, Dept. of OB/GYN, UMDNJ-SOM, 401 Haddon Avenue, Room 364, Camden, NJ 08103.


"More B vitamin benefits," J. Raloff, Science News, Vol. 149, April 13, 1996.

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