Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Nutrition in pregnancy

Use of dietary supplements in pregnant women in relation to sociodemographic factors – a report from The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study

Carin Andrén Aronssona1 c1, Kendra Vehika2, Jimin Yanga2, Ulla Uusitaloa2, Kristen Haya3, Gesa Joslowskia4, Anne Riikonena5, Lori Ballarda2, Suvi M Virtanena5a6 and Jill M Norrisa7 on behalf of the TEDDY Study Group

a1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, CRC, Bldg. 60:11, Jan Waldenströms gata 35, SE 20502 Malmö, Sweden

a2 Pediatrics Epidemiology Center, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

a3 Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA

a4 Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Dortmund, Germany

a5 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Nutrition Unit, Helsinki, Finland

a6 Science Center of Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere, Finland

a7 Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Denver, CO, USA


Objectives The aim of the present study was to examine the prevalence and associated factors of dietary supplement use, particularly supplements containing vitamin D and fatty acids, in pregnant women enrolled in a multi-national study.

Design The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study is a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Maternal dietary supplement use was self-reported through questionnaires at month 3 to 4 postpartum.

Setting Six clinical research centres; three in the USA (Colorado, Georgia/Florida and Washington) and three in Europe (Sweden, Finland and Germany).

Subjects Mothers (n 7326) to infants screened for high-risk HLA-DQ genotypes of type 1 diabetes.

Results Ninety-two per cent of the 7326 women used one or more types of supplement during pregnancy. Vitamin D supplements were taken by 65 % of the women, with the highest proportion of users in the USA (80·5 %). Overall, 16 % of the women reported taking fatty acid supplements and a growing trend was seen in all countries between 2004 and 2010 (P < 0·0001). The use was more common in Germany (32 %) and the USA (24 %) compared with Finland (8·5 %) and Sweden (7·0 %). Being pregnant with the first child was a strong predictor for any supplement use in all countries. Low maternal age (<25 years), higher education, BMI ≥ 25·0 kg/m2 and smoking during pregnancy were factors associated with supplement use in some but not all countries.

Conclusions The majority of the women used dietary supplements during pregnancy. The use was associated with sociodemographic and behavioural factors, such as parity, maternal age, education, BMI and maternal smoking.

(Received July 09 2012)

(Revised November 22 2012)

(Accepted January 17 2013)

(Online publication March 04 2013)


  • Dietary supplements;
  • Pregnancy;
  • TEDDY;
  • Vitamin D;
  • Fatty acids


c1 Corresponding author: Email


  Members of the TEDDY Study Group are listed in Appendix 1.