Objective: To assess the impact on birth size and risk of low birth weight of alternative combinations of micronutrients given to pregnant women. Design: Double blind cluster randomised controlled trial. Setting: Rural community in south eastern Nepal. Participants: 4926 pregnant women and 4130 live born infants. Interventions: 426 communities were randomised to five regimens in which pregnant women received daily supplements of folic acid, folic acid-iron, folic acid-iron-zinc, or multiple micronutrients all given with vitamin A, or vitamin A alone (control). Main outcome measures: Birth weight, length, and head and chest circumference assessed within 72 hours of birth. Low birth weight was defined < 2500 g. Results: Supplementation with maternal folic acid alone had no effect on birth size. Folic acid-iron increased mean birth weight by 37 g (95% confidence interval - 16 g to 90 g) and reduced the percentage of low birthweight babies (< 2500 g) from 43% to 34% (16%; relative risk=0.84, 0.72 to 0.99). Folic acid-iron-zinc had no effect on birth size compared with controls. Multiple micronutrient supplementation increased birth weight by 64 g (12 g to 115 g) and reduced the percentage of low birthweight babies by 14% (0.86, 0.74 to 0.99). None of the supplement combinations reduced the incidence of preterm births. Folic acid-iron and multiple micronutrients increased head and chest circumference of babies, but not length. Conclusions: Antenatal folic acid-iron supplements modestly reduce the risk of low birth weight. Multiple micronutrients confer no additional benefit over folic acid-iron in reducing this risk.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||British medical journal|
|State||Published - Mar 15 2003|
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