Comparison of Nutritional Content of Prescription vs Nonprescription Prenatal Vitamins [23F]

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Obstetrics and Gynecology





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INTRODUCTION: The primary objective was to compare the nutritional content of prescription to nonprescription prenatal vitamins. METHODS: We obtained samples of popular prescription and nonprescription prenatal vitamins (PNVs). We then recorded the nutritional contents of each product from the nutritional label. PNV ingredients were compared to each other and to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended guidelines. To compare physical size, we focused on PNVs in pill form. To compare cost, we used pharmacy quoted cash prices of prescription PNVs and shelf prices of nonprescription PNVs RESULTS: We obtained a total sample of 16 PNVs (8 prescription, 8 nonprescription). All 16 PNVs examined had at least 800 mcg of folic acid. However, no PNV, prescription or nonprescription, simultaneously met all of ACOG's nutrient recommendations for calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamin D. In terms of size, the largest prescription PNV was approximately 1 inch in length (PrimaCare), and smallest approximately 0.6 inches (Prenate Mini, Vitafol, VitaPearl, and OB Complete). For nonprescription PNVs, the largest were also approximately 1 inch in length (Alive and Nature Made), but no nonprescription with a single pill was 0.6 inches or less. In terms of cost, the cash price of the cheapest prescription PNV was almost double that of the most expensive nonprescription PNV. CONCLUSION: We found no meaningful difference in nutritional adequacy of prescription versus nonprescription PNVs with respect to ACOG nutrient recommendations, despite appearance of a large cost difference.


Obstetrics and Gynecology



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