Antenatal multiple micronutrient supplements versus iron-folic acid supplements and birth outcomes: Analysis by gestational age assessment method

Filomena Gomes, Sufia Askari, Robert E. Black, Parul Christian, Kathryn G. Dewey, Martin N. Mwangi, Ziaul Rana, Sarah Reed, Anuraj H. Shankar, Emily R. Smith, Alison Tumilowicz

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Abstract

Meta-analyses consistently have found that antenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) compared with iron and folic acid (IFA) alone reduce adverse birth outcomes. In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) placed a conditional recommendation for MMS and requested additional trials using ultrasounds to establish gestational age, because the evidence on low birthweight (LBW), preterm birth and small for gestational age (SGA) was considered inconsistent. We conducted meta-analyses to determine if the effects of MMS on LBW, preterm birth and SGA differed by gestational age assessment method. Using data from the 16 trials in the WHO analyses, we calculated the effect estimates of MMS versus IFA on birth outcomes (generic inverse variance method and random effects model) stratified by method of gestational age assessment: ultrasound, prospective collection of the date of last menstrual period (LMP) and confirmation of pregnancy by urine test and recall of LMP. The effects of MMS versus IFA on birthweight, preterm birth and SGA appeared consistent across subgroups with no evidence of subgroup differences (p > 0.05). When limited to the seven trials that used ultrasound, the beneficial effects of MMS were demonstrated: risk ratios of 0.87 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.78–0.97) for LBW, 0.90 (95% CI, 0.79–1.03) for preterm birth and 0.9 (95% CI, 0.83–0.99) for SGA. Sensitivity analyses indicated consistency in the results. These results, together with recent analyses demonstrating comparable effects of MMS (vs. IFA) on maternal anaemia outcomes, strengthen the evidence to support a transition from IFA to MMS programmes in low- and middle-income countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13509
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

Keywords

  • birth outcomes
  • gestational age assessment
  • iron and folic acid supplements
  • multiple micronutrient supplements
  • nutrition
  • pregnancy
  • ultrasound

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