Background: Reduced intake of micronutrients during pregnancy exposes women to nutritional deficiencies and may affect fetal growth. We conducted a systematic review to examine the efficacy of prenatal supplementation with multimicronutrients on pregnancy outcomes.
Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library for relevant articles published in English up to December 2008. We also searched the bibliographies of selected articles as well as clinical trial registries. The primary outcome was low birth weight; secondary outcomes were preterm birth, small-for-gestational-age infants, birth weight and gestational age.
Results: We observed a significant reduction in the risk of low birth weight among infants born to women who received multimicronutrients during pregnancy compared with placebo (relative risk [RR] 0.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.73-0.91) or iron-folic acid supplementation (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.74-0.93). Birth weight was significantly higher among infants whose mothers were in the multimicronutrient group than among those whose mothers received iron-folic acid supplementation (weighted mean difference 54 g, 95% CI 36 g-72 g). There was no significant differences in the risk of preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age infants between the 3 study groups.
Interpretation: Prenatal multimicronutrient supplementation was associated with a significantly reduced risk of low birth weight and with improved birth weight when compared with iron-folic acid supplementation. There was no significant effect of multimicronutrient supplementation on the risk of preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age infants.