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Pediatrics. 1975 Oct;56(4):508-20.

Effect of food supplementation during pregnancy on birthweight.


The high prevalence of low-birthweight (less than or equal to 2,500 gm) babies in many poor communities is a major public health problem. Studies in humans in situations of acute starvation suggest an effect of maternal nutrition on birthweight, but less clear results appear under situations of moderate maternal malnutrition. We studied the effects of food supplementation during pregnancy on birthweight in four rural villages of Guatemala, in which two types of supplements were distributed: protein-caloric and caloric. The caloric supplementation increased the total caloric intake during pregnancy. In both supplements, the amount of calories supplemented during pregnancy showed a consistent association with birthweight. In the combined sample the proportion of low-birthweight babies in the high-supplement group (G greater than or equal to 20,000 supplemented calories during pregnancy) was 9% compared with 19% in the low-supplement group (less than 20,000 supplemented calories during pregnancy). The relationship between caloric supplementation and birthweight (29 gm of birthweight per 10,000 supplemented calories) was basically unchanged after controlling for the maternal home diet, height, head circumference, parity, gestational age, duration of disease during pregnancy, socioeconomic status, and different rates of missing data. Moreover, a similar association was found in consecutive pregnancies of the same mother. We concluded that caloric supplementation during pregnancy produced the observed increase in birthweight.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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