Maternal dietary selenium intake is associated with increased gestational length and decreased risk for preterm delivery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


  • Malin Barman
  • Anne Lise Brantsæter
  • Staffan Nilsson
  • Margaretha Haugen
  • Thomas Lundh
  • Gerald F. Combs
  • Ge Zhang
  • Louis J. Muglia
  • Helle Margrete Meltzer
  • Bo Jacobsson
  • Verena Sengpiel
External organisations
  • Chalmers University of Technology
  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Tufts University
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • Dietary selenium intake, Father and Child Cohort Study, Food Frequency Questionnaire, Gestational length, Medical Birth Registry of Norway, MoBa, Pregnant women, Preterm Delivery, Selenium, Selenium status, The Norwegian Mother
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 28
Publication categoryResearch