Objective: Antenatal multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) are a cost-effective intervention to reduce adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. However, the current WHO recommendation on the use of antenatal MMS is conditional, partly due to concerns about the effect on neonatal mortality in a subgroup of studies comparing MMS with iron and folic acid supplements (IFA) containing 60 mg of iron. We aimed to assess the effect of MMS vs IFA on neonatal mortality stratified by iron dose in each supplement.
Methods: We updated the neonatal mortality analysis of the 2020 WHO guidelines using the generic inverse variance method and applied the random effects model to calculate the effect estimates of MMS vs. IFA on neonatal mortality in subgroups of trials (n=13) providing the same or different amounts of iron, i.e. MMS with 60 mg of iron vs IFA with 60 mg of iron; MMS with 30 mg of iron vs IFA with 30 mg of iron; MMS with 30 mg of iron vs IFA with 60 mg of iron; and MMS with 20 mg of iron vs IFA with 60 mg of iron.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences in neonatal mortality between MMS and IFA within any of the subgroups of trials. Analysis of MMS with 30 mg vs IFA with 60 mg of iron (7 trials, 14,114 participants), yielded a nonsignificant Risk Ratio (RR) of 1.12 (95% CI 0.83 to 1.50).
Conclusion: Neonatal mortality did not differ between MMS and IFA regardless of iron dose in either supplement.
Keywords: iron; micronutrient supplements; neonatal mortality; pregnancy.