OBJECTIVE: To estimate whether maternally administered vitamins C and E lower the risk of spontaneous preterm birth.
METHODS: This is a secondary analysis of a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial in nulliparous women at low-risk administered 1,000 mg vitamin C and 400 international units vitamin E or placebo daily from 9 to 16 weeks of gestation until delivery. Outcomes include preterm birth attributable to premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and total spontaneous preterm births (spontaneous preterm birth attributable to PROM or spontaneous labor).
RESULTS: Of the 10,154 women randomized, outcome data were available for 9,968 (4,992 vitamin group and 4,976 placebo group). A total of 1,038 women (10.4%) delivered preterm, of whom 698 (7.0%) had spontaneous preterm birth. A spontaneous preterm birth occurred in 356 women (7.1%) assigned to daily vitamin C and E supplementation and in 342 (6.9%) assigned to placebo. There were 253 women (2.5%) who delivered after preterm PROM and 445 (4.5%) after a spontaneous preterm labor. In women supplemented with vitamins C and E, births attributed to preterm PROM were similar at less than 37 and 35 weeks of gestation, but births were less frequent before 32 weeks of gestation (0.3% compared with 0.6%, adjusted odds ratio 0.3–0.9). However, total spontaneous preterm births across gestation in women supplemented with vitamins C and E or a placebo were similar.
CONCLUSION: Maternal supplementation with vitamins C and E beginning at 9 to 16 weeks of gestation in nulliparous women at low risk did not reduce spontaneous preterm births.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00135707.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: I