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Dr. Diane Ashton, March of Dimes’ deputy medical director, called the study results an interesting finding that she hasn’t seen in prior research. The results will have to be replicated, she said, but her organization already suggests at least a year between pregnancies.

“That is to allow the mother to rebuild depleted nutritional stores and decrease the risk for low birth weight and prematurity. Surely this evidence would provide additional reasons for those recommendations to be made,” she said.

The March of Dimes also recommends that all women of childbearing age take a daily multivitamin containing folic acid, an artificial version of folate. Since half of pregnancies aren’t planned, the recommendation includes women who aren’t trying to get pregnant.

The new study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Bearman hesitated to give advice to parents planning families because the results are so new and unconfirmed. Older parents may not want to wait two or three years for a second child because of other health concerns, he said.

“The advice for parents is to pay attention to the science,” Bearman said.



American Academy of Pediatrics: