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Food Nutr Bull. 2009 Dec;30(4 Suppl):S556-73.

Multiple micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy in developing-country settings: policy and program implications of the results of a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Institute of Child Health, London, UK.

Erratum in

  • Food Nutr Bull. 2010 Sep;31(3):466.



An independent Systematic Review Team performed a meta-analysis of 12 randomized, controlled trials comparing multiple micronutrients with daily iron-folic acid supplementation during pregnancy.


To provide an independent interpretation of the policy and program implications of the results of the meta-analysis.


A group of policy and program experts performed an independent review of the meta-analysis results, analyzing internal and external validity and drawing conclusions on the program implications.


Although iron content was often lower in the multiple micronutrient supplement than in the iron-folic acid supplement, both supplements were equally effective in tackling anemia. Community-based supplementation ensured high adherence, but some mothers still remained anemic, indicating the need to concomitantly treat infections. The small, significant increase in mean birthweight among infants of mothers receiving multiple micronutrients compared with infants of mothers receiving iron-folic acid is of similar magnitude to that produced by food supplementation during pregnancy. Larger micronutrient doses seem to produce greater impact. Meaningful improvements have also been observed in height and cognitive development of the children by 2 years of age. There were no significant differences in the rates of stillbirth, early neonatal death, or neonatal death between the supplemented groups. The nonsignificant trend toward increased early neonatal mortality observed in the groups receiving multiple micronutrients may be related to differences across trials in the rate of adolescent pregnancies, continuing iron deficiency, and/or adequacy of postpartum health care and merits further investigation.


Replacing iron-folic acid supplements with multiple micronutrient supplements in the package of health and nutrition interventions delivered to mothers during pregnancy will improve the impact of supplementation on birthweight and on child growth and development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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