Prenatal vitamin supplementation and pediatric brain tumors: Huge international variation in use and possible reduction in risk

Susan Preston-Martin, Janice M. Pogoda, Beth A. Mueller, Flora Lubin, Baruch Modan, Elizabeth A. Holly, Graziella Filippini, Sylvaine Cordier, Raphael Peris-Bonet, Won Choi, Julian Little, Annie Arslan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An international case-control study of primary pediatric brain tumors included interviews with mothers of cases diagnosed from 1976-1994 and mothers of population controls. Data are available on maternal vitamin use during pregnancy for 1051 cases and for 1919 controls in eight geographic areas of North America, Europe and Israel. While risk estimates varied by study center, combined results suggest that maternal supplementation for two trimesters may decrease risk of brain tumor [odds ratio (OR)=0.7; 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.50.9], with a trend toward less risk with longer duration of use (P trend= 0.0007). The greatest risk reduction was among children diagnosed under 5 years of age whose mothers used supplements during all three trimesters (OR=0.5; CI=0.3-0.8). This effect did not vary by histology and was seen for supplementation during pregnancy rather than during the month before pregnancy or while breast feeding. These findings are largely driven by data from the US, where most mothers took vitamins. The proportion of control mothers who took vitamins during pregnancy varied tremendously, from 3% in Israel and in France through 21% in Italy, 33% in Canada, 52% in Spain to 86-92% at the three US centers. The composition of the various multivitamin compounds taken also varied: daily dose of vitamin C ranged from 0 up to 600 mg; vitamin E from 0 to 70 mg; vitamin A from 0 to 30,000 IU and folate from 0 to 2000 mg. Mothers also took individual micronutrient supplements (e.g., vitamin C tablets), but most mothers who took these also took multivitamins, making it impossible to determine potential independent effects of these micronutrients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


  • Brain neoplasms
  • Childhood neoplasms
  • Prenatal exposures
  • Vitamin supplements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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