Can Switching Prenatal Vitamins Be Dangerous?

Pregnant woman taking medicines
A pregnant woman holding a glass of water and vitamins. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

Prenatal vitamins are vital for your and your baby’s health, but not just any prenatal vitamin will do. Your doctor will prescribe a prenatal vitamin suitable for your pregnancy, taking into consideration such factors as your dietary intake of nutrients and specific problems that may threaten your baby’s health.

Function

Prenatal vitamins provide extra doses of vitamins and minerals to prepare your body to give birth and to aid your child’s development. For example, a typical prenatal vitamin will contain at least 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid to reduce the chance of development problems in your baby, such as spinal bifida, according to WomensHealth.gov.

Expert Insight

Prenatal vitamins are not necessarily interchangeable. Each might have different types and amounts of the various nutrients and minerals you and your baby need. As with any medical decisions you make during your pregnancy, consult your health care provider first. Changing your medications, including prenatal vitamins, without your doctor’s supervision could have negative effects you can’t predict.

Significance

Taking it upon yourself to switch prenatal vitamins could lead to serious problems. For example, iron from a prenatal vitamin can increase constipation, so sufferers might be tempted to switch to a prenatal vitamin that contains less iron. But you need extra iron to keep up with a blood supply increase that necessitates the production of extra hemoglobin; to provide enough iron to your growing baby and her placenta; to compensate for initial low levels of iron before you became pregnant; and to avoid iron deficiency anemia, which can cause preterm delivery, infant mortality and low birth weight, according to BabyCenter. Unless your doctor is involved in the decision, switching vitamins could be unhealthy for you and deadly for your baby.

Alternatives

If your current prenatal vitamins are causing unpleasant side effects or are unacceptable for any other reason, ask your health care provider for alternatives. Your doctor might prescribe a different type of prenatal vitamin or offer suggestions for counteracting the negative effects of your current prescription.

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