Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):788-94.

Antenatal supplementation with micronutrients and biochemical indicators of status and subclinical infection in rural Nepal.

Author information

Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



Previously we showed that women in rural Nepal experience multiple micronutrient deficiencies in early pregnancy.


This study examined the effects of daily antenatal micronutrient supplementation on changes in the biochemical status of several micronutrients during pregnancy.


In Nepal, we conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 4 combinations of micronutrients (folic acid, folic acid + iron, folic acid + iron + zinc, and a multiple micronutrient supplement containing folic acid, iron, zinc, and 11 other nutrients) plus vitamin A, or vitamin A alone as a control, were given daily during pregnancy. In a subsample of subjects (n = 740), blood was collected both before supplementation and at approximately 32 wk of gestation.


In the control group, serum concentrations of zinc, riboflavin, and vitamins B-12 and B-6 decreased, whereas those of copper and alpha-tocopherol increased, from the first to the third trimester. Concentrations of serum folate, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and undercarboxylated prothrombin remained unchanged. Supplementation with folic acid alone or folic acid + iron decreased folate deficiency. However, the addition of zinc failed to increase serum folate, which suggests a negative inhibition; multiple micronutrient supplementation increased serum folate. Folic acid + iron + zinc failed to improve zinc status but reduced subclinical infection. Multiple micronutrient supplementation decreased the prevalence of serum riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, folate, and vitamin D deficiencies but had no effect on infection.


In rural Nepal, antenatal supplementation with multiple micronutrients can ameliorate, to some extent, the burden of deficiency. The implications of such biochemical improvements in the absence of functional and health benefits remain unclear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center