A longitudinal study of pre-pregnancy antioxidant levels and subsequent perinatal outcomes in black and white women: The CARDIA study

Emily W. Harville, Cora E. Lewis, Janet M. Catov, David R. Jacobs, Myron D. Gross, Erica P. Gunderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although protective associations between dietary antioxidants and pregnancy outcomes have been reported, randomized controlled trials of supplementation have been almost uniformly negative. A possible explanation is that supplementation during pregnancy may be too late to have a beneficial effect. Therefore, we examined the relationship between antioxidant levels prior to pregnancy and birth outcomes.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: Serum carotenoids and tocopherols were assayed in fasting specimens at 1985-86 (baseline) and 1992-1993 (year 7) from 1,215 participants in Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. An interviewer-administered quantitative food-frequency questionnaire assessed dietary intake of antioxidants. Pregnancy outcome was self-reported at exams every 2 to 5 years. Linear and logistic regression modeling was used to assess relationships of low birthweight (LBW; <2,500 g), continuous infant birthweight, preterm birth (PTB; <37 weeks) and length of gestation with antioxidant levels adjusted for confounders, as well as interactions with age and race.

RESULTS: In adjusted models, lycopene was associated with higher odds of LBW (adjusted odds ratio for top quartile, 2.15, 95% confidence interval 1.14, 3.92) and shorter gestational age (adjusted beta coefficient -0.50 weeks). Dietary intake of antioxidants was associated with lower birthweight, while supplement use of vitamin C was associated with higher gestational age (0.41 weeks, 0.01, 0.81).

CONCLUSIONS: Higher preconception antioxidant levels are not associated with better birth outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0229002
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Harville et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Antioxidants/metabolism
  • Ascorbic Acid/blood
  • Carotenoids/blood
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth/blood
  • Young Adult

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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