You may have heard that you need to take vitamin C supplements during pregnancy to help prevent a rare disease that affects the skin.
But does this mean you should get them?
David M. Brown, a paediatrician and chief medical officer of the Australian Paediatric Society, says he has never heard of a case of a pregnant woman who was prescribed vitamin C to prevent a potentially fatal genetic disorder.
Dr Brown says the benefits of taking vitamin C outweigh the risks, and that it could be used during pregnancy, when the risk of genetic disorders such as Tay-Sachs is highest.
“It’s very important to know that this is not the first case of vitamin C being prescribed for the treatment of a genetic disorder and we’re continuing to look at this,” he says.
He says that if you’re pregnant, the benefits are clear.
“This is a very common condition that’s been around for many, many years and it’s very difficult to treat because of the genetic changes that have occurred over time,” he said.
“There are a lot of potential risks to it and we don’t want to be overly concerned about any of those risks.”
Dr Brown cautions that there’s a good chance you’ll still get vitamin c, but you should also take it on a daily basis.
“The main reason for doing that is because it’s important to remember that there are genetic changes associated with vitamin C and if you have a genetic disease, you’re more likely to get that,” he told ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program.
“In fact, it’s been found that there is a 25 per cent chance that you’re going to get a mutation in your DNA and the more you have that mutation, the more likely you are to have that vitamin C deficiency.”
In Australia, pregnant women take vitamin c supplements to help protect against Tay-sachs and other rare diseases.
But you don’t need to be pregnant to take the vitamin C you need.
If you’re breast-feeding, you can take vitamin A, zinc and calcium supplements.
But the most important thing to do during pregnancy is to do your research, Dr Brown says.
“The main thing to remember is that we are all different.
Some women are more susceptible to Tay-son and other genetic diseases than others and we need to make the right choices for the individual patient,” he explained.”
We’re all different and we all have different genetic vulnerabilities.”