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Vitamins Prevent Female Infertility

By Alexa D West, Contributing Writer

Forget about the birds and the bees—it’s the multivitamin.

In a study conducted over an eight-year span involving more than 18,500 women, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that women who took six or more multivitamin tablets a week reduced their incidence of ovulatory infertility by 40 percent.

“Since these findings are preliminary, it is important that they undergo peer review (currently underway) so that the medical and scientific communities have a chance to scrutinize the study more closely and decide about their relevance,” Jorge E. Chavarro, a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition and an author of the study, wrote in an e-mail.

Chavarro’s preliminary results were presented last Monday during the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

According to the press release, the folic acid in multivitamins is thought to be the most direct link to ovulatory fertility.

“I think that multivitamins are definitely not going to hurt anybody who’s trying to become pregnant,” Chavarro said in the press release. “They should be recommended—or at least folic acid should be recommended—to prevent neural tube defects. I think that as far as infertility is concerned, this is a good initial step, but it needs to be replicated in other studies.”

The other investigators involved in the study were Stare professor and chair of the nutrition department Walter Willett, assistant professor of epidemiology Janet Rich-Edwards ’84, and professor of biostatistics Bernard Rosner.

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