Maternal dietary selenium intake is associated with increased gestational length and decreased risk of preterm delivery
Journal article, 2020

The first positive genome-wide association study on gestational length and preterm delivery showed associations with a gene involved in the selenium metabolism. In this study we examine the associations between maternal intake of selenium and selenium status with gestational length and preterm delivery in 72,025 women with singleton live births from the population based, prospective Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). A self-reported, semi-quantitativ food-frequency questionnaire answered in pregnancy week 22 was used to estimate selenium intake during the first half of pregnancy. Associations were analysed with adjusted linear and cox regressions. Selenium status was assessed in whole blood collected in gestational week 17 (n=2,637). Median dietary selenium intake was 53 (IQR: 44-62) μg/day, supplements provided additionally 50 (30-75) μg/day for supplement-users (n=23,409). Maternal dietary selenium intake was significantly associated with prolonged gestational length (β per SD=0.25, 95% CI=0.07-0.43) and decreased risk for preterm delivery (n=3,618, HR per SD=0.92, 95% CI=0.87-0.98). Neither selenium intake from supplements nor maternal blood selenium status was associated with gestational length or preterm delivery. Hence, this study showed that maternal dietary selenium intake, but not intake of selenium containing supplements, during the first half of pregnancy was significantly associated with decreased risk for preterm delivery. Further investigations, preferably in the form of a large RCT, are needed to elucidate the impact of selenium on pregnancy duration.

Father and Child Cohort Study

Medical Birth Registry of Norway

Gestational length


The Norwegian Mother

Selenium status

Food Frequency Questionnaire


Preterm Delivery

Pregnant women

Dietary selenium intake


Malin Barman

University of Gothenburg

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Anne-Lise Brantsaeter

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Staffan Nilsson

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

University of Gothenburg

Margaretha Haugen

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Thomas Lundh

Lund University

Gerald F. Combs

Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

G. Zhang

University of Cincinnati

L. J. Muglia

University of Cincinnati

Helle M Meltzer

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Bo Jacobsson

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

University of Gothenburg

Verena Sengpiel

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

British Journal of Nutrition

0007-1145 (ISSN) 1475-2662 (eISSN)

Vol. 123 2 209-219

Subject Categories


Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine

Nutrition and Dietetics



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