A multivitamin given daily to pregnant women in rural Bangladesh reduced pre-term births, increased infant birth weight, and resulted in healthier babies overall, according to results of a large randomized trial conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers.
The findings, published in the December 24, 2014 issue of JAMA, suggest that a supplement containing 15 essential micronutrients is superior to the current standard of care in many developing countries, which calls for pregnant women to take supplements containing iron and folic acid.
“Our study shows that women in undernourished societies should be given a multiple micronutrient supplement during pregnancy,” says study leader Dr. Keith P. West Jr., George G. Graham Professor of Infant and Child Nutrition in the department of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It increases birth size because the babies stay in the womb longer and when that happens they are born a little larger and better equipped to handle life outside the womb. There is clear evidence of benefit.”
Inadequate diets leading to poor nutrition are a serious public health problem in many parts of the world where many pregnant women lack micronutrients critical to the growth and development of their fetuses, setting these children back even before their lives outside the womb have begun.