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Maternal Micronutrient Supplement Effects Persist

In Nepalese children, associated increases in body weight and size continue at age 2.5 years

FRIDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- In Nepal, children born to mothers who take multiple micronutrient supplements during pregnancy are more likely to have a modestly higher birth weight and body size, an effect that persists into early childhood, according to research published in the Feb. 9 issue of The Lancet.

In a study published in 2005, Anjana Vaidya, M.D., of Mother and Infant Research Activities in Kathmandu, Nepal, and colleagues randomly assigned 1,200 Nepalese women to take either a supplement containing the recommended daily allowance of 15 vitamins and minerals or a routine supplement containing iron and folic acid during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The investigators found that maternal supplementation with the multiple micronutrient was associated with an increased mean birth weight of 77 grams. Their new study shows the results of a two- to three-year follow-up of children born during that trial.

The researchers found that the intervention group weighed more than the control group at a mean age of 2.5 years (10.9 kilograms versus 10.7 kilograms). They also found that the intervention group had greater circumferences of the head (2.4 millimeters), chest (3.2 mm), and mid-upper arm (2.4 mm); increased triceps skinfold thickness (2 mm); and lower systolic blood pressure (2.5 mm Hg).

"We are only beginning to unravel the longer-term effects of increasing body mass," the authors write. "Its distal effects on health -- cognitive performance, childhood illness and mortality, and later blood pressure -- might be beneficial, but we need further follow-up and larger studies to confirm our findings."

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