Importance: Maternal micronutrient deficiencies may adversely affect fetal and infant health, yet there is insufficient evidence of effects on these outcomes to guide antenatal micronutrient supplementation in South Asia.
Objective: To assess effects of antenatal multiple micronutrient vs iron-folic acid supplementation on 6-month infant mortality and adverse birth outcomes.
Design, setting, and participants: Cluster randomized, double-masked trial in Bangladesh, with pregnancy surveillance starting December 4, 2007, and recruitment on January 11, 2008. Six-month infant follow-up ended August 30, 2012. Surveillance included 127,282 women; 44,567 became pregnant and were included in the analysis and delivered 28,516 live-born infants. Median gestation at enrollment was 9 weeks (interquartile range, 7-12).
Interventions: Women were provided supplements containing 15 micronutrients or iron-folic acid alone, taken daily from early pregnancy to 12 weeks postpartum.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was all-cause infant mortality through 6 months (180 days). Prespecified secondary outcomes in this analysis included stillbirth, preterm birth (<37 weeks), and low birth weight (<2500 g). To maintain overall significance of α = .05, a Bonferroni-corrected α = .01 was calculated to evaluate statistical significance of primary and 4 secondary risk outcomes (.05/5).
Results: Among the 22,405 pregnancies in the multiple micronutrient group and the 22,162 pregnancies in the iron-folic acid group, there were 14,374 and 14,142 live-born infants, respectively, included in the analysis. At 6 months, multiple micronutrients did not significantly reduce infant mortality; there were 764 deaths (54.0 per 1000 live births) in the iron-folic acid group and 741 deaths (51.6 per 1000 live births) in the multiple micronutrient group (relative risk [RR], 0.95; 95% CI, 0.86-1.06). Multiple micronutrient supplementation resulted in a non-statistically significant reduction in stillbirths (43.1 vs 48.2 per 1000 births; RR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.81-0.99; P = .02) and significant reductions in preterm births (18.6 vs 21.8 per 100 live births; RR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.80-0.91; P < .001) and low birth weight (40.2 vs 45.7 per 100 live births; RR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.85-0.91; P < .001).
Conclusions and relevance: In Bangladesh, antenatal multiple micronutrient compared with iron-folic acid supplementation did not reduce all-cause infant mortality to age 6 months but resulted in a non-statistically significant reduction in stillbirths and significant reductions in preterm births and low birth weight.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00860470.