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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):178-84.

Effect of multimicronutrient supplementation on gestational length and birth size: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind effectiveness trial in Zimbabwe.

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Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



Multiple micronutrient deficiencies may contribute to low birth weight, which is a major global determinant of mortality.


We assessed the effect of prenatal multimicronutrient supplementation on gestational length and birth size.


We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind effectiveness trial among antenatal care attendees in Harare, Zimbabwe. Pregnant women (22-35 wk of gestation) were randomly allocated to receive a multimicronutrient or placebo supplement daily until delivery. Supplementation with iron and folic acid was part of antenatal care.


Of 1669 women, birth data were available from 1106 (66%), of whom 360 (33%) had HIV infection. The mean gestational length was 39.1 wk, and 16.6% of the women had a gestational length < 37 wk. The mean birth weight was 3030 g, and 10.5% of the infants had a birth weight < 2500 g. Multimicronutrient supplementation was associated with tendencies for increased gestational length (0.3 wk; 95% CI: -0.04, 0.6 wk; P = 0.06), birth weight (49 g; -6, 104 g; P = 0.08), and head circumference (0.2 cm; -0.02, 0.4 cm; P = 0.07) but was not associated with low birth weight (birth weight < 2500 g) (relative risk: 0.84; 0.59, 1.18; P = 0.31). The effect of multimicronutrient supplementation on birth weight was not significantly different between HIV-uninfected (26 g; -38, 91 g) and HIV-infected (101 g; -3, 205 g) subjects (interaction, P > 0.10).


Antenatal multimicronutrient supplementation may be one strategy to increase birth size.

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