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D.iet & H.ealth : C.ancer Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Prenatal vitamins may lower pediatric brain tumors
By Sue Mueller
Sep 20, 2006, 20:30

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Women who take multivitamins near conception or early in pregnancy may reduce the risk of their child developing some types of brain tumors, suggests a new study published in the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

"Children whose mothers took multivitamins close to the time of conception seemed less likely to suffer medulloblastoma and primitive neuroectodermal tumors of the brain." said Greta R. Bunin, Ph.D., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Bunin and colleagues found a weakly significant association between intake of multivitamins early in pregnancy and reduced risk of brain tumors in children after comparing the dietary habits of 305 mothers whose children aged 6 or younger suffered from brain tumors, known as medulloblastoma to those of 315 randomly chosen healthy children, both groups in the US and Canada.

The association was weak, but the researchers believed taking multivitamins early in pregnancy was likely to have a protective effect as Dr. Bunin's team already found similar results in early studies conducted in 1993.

The researchers also examined whether consumption of processed meats such as ham, hot dogs, luncheon meat, sausages and smoked fish, which are known to cause nervous system tumors in animals. They found no association between consumption of such meat early in pregnancy and risk pf pediatric brain tumors.

Health professionals and government officials have already advocated for use of prenatal vitamins containing folic acid in pregnancy to reduce their fetus's risk of developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. The researchers suggested the current study added evidence of another protective effect of prenatal vitamins on the child and recommended use of multivitamin in pregnancy for the protective effect.

A scientist affiliated with who wouldn’t want to be identified cautioned that the study is not meant to establish a cause-and-effect association between intake of multivitamins early in pregnancy and risk of pediatric brain tumors. Pregnant women who take prenatal vitamins might also take good care of themselves and to reduce exposure to environmental pollutants.

Childhood brain tumors are relatively rare. Medulloblastoma, the second most common brain tumor in children, occurs in one out of 20,000 children under age six, according to a news release by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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