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Regular vitamin C supplementation during pregnancy reduces hospitalization: outcomes of a Ugandan rural cohort study

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African Field Epidemiology Network
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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a hydro‐soluble lactone (synthesized from glucose) essential to human body and available from diet. Despite its broad availability in fruits and vegetables, in many developing countries the incidence of clinical symptoms due to the vitamin deficiency is still very high. Also, pregnant women in the developing countries are frequently hospitalized for several preventable reasons such as anemia in pregnancy, mostly irondeficient anemia (IDA) and the upper/lower respiratory tract infections (RTI). The aim of the study was to investigate, in a Ugandan rural pregnant women cohort, the preventive effects of vitamin C supplementation on hospital admission. METHODS: 384 pregnant women met the inclusion criteria and were randomly assigned to receive either 400 mg of vitamin C daily (187) or not (197) in addition to their standard antenatal vitamins until delivery. The primary outcome measure of this study was to assess the prevention of hospitalization during pregnancy in the group of women supplemented with vitamin C compared to the controls. Fisher's exact test was employed in this assessment. RESULTS: 42.2% women in the vitamin C group and 27.9% in the control group were not hospitalized during pregnancy; this difference was found statistically significant. CONCLUSION: The results of this study suggest including vitamin C in the guidelines of multivitamin prevention for pregnant women, especially in developing countries where seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables could result in adverse clinical outcomes.

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