The effects of maternal folic acid and vitamin C nutrition in early pregnancy on reproductive performance in the guinea-pig

Br J Nutr. 1986 Jan;55(1):23-35. doi: 10.1079/bjn19860006.


1. The effect of different intakes of folic acid (FA) and vitamin C on pregnancy in the Dunkin-Hartley guinea-pig was examined. Female guinea-pigs were subjected to three graded intakes of FA and vitamin C ('deficient', 'intermediate' similar to recommended daily intakes (RDI), and 'supplemented') during early gestation and up to the time of neural tube closure (17th day of gestation), and then returned to the RDI of these vitamins. 2. Plasma and blood cell concentrations of these vitamins were measured once before and at the end of the dietary treatments. Reproductive performance was assessed in terms of the number of resorbed and aborted embryos and weight and size of the live fetuses on the 36th day of gestation. 3. The short-term deficiency of either of these two vitamins, insufficient to affect maternal health, had a dramatic effect on the reproductive performance. 4. The RDI of FA was significantly less effective than the supplemented intake in preventing embryonic deaths. The RDI of vitamin C produced lighter and smaller live fetuses than the supplemented intake. 5. The implications of these findings with regard to vitamin status in early pregnancy in man are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / prevention & control
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Litter Size / drug effects
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / drug effects*
  • Reproduction / drug effects


  • Folic Acid
  • Ascorbic Acid