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Prenatal Multivitamin Cuts Neonatal Morbidity

Multivitamins lower neonate morbidity and risk of low birth weight compared to iron and folate alone

TUESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Undernourished women who take a multivitamin supplement during pregnancy are less likely to have a low birth weight infant or an infant with early neonatal morbidity than similar women who take iron and folic acid supplements alone, according to a report in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Piyush Gupta, M.D., of University College of Medical Sciences in Delhi, India, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial including 200 undernourished pregnant women living in India. The women in the micronutrient supplementation group took a once daily supplement containing 29 vitamins and minerals for a median duration of 58 days. The women in the comparison group took a placebo. All women took iron supplements (60 mg/day) and folic acid (500 μg/day).

The infants in the micronutrient group were heavier by 98 g and measured 0.80 cm longer and 0.20 cm larger in midarm circumference than those in the placebo group. Low birth weight was 70 percent lower (43.1 in the placebo group; 16.2 percent in the micronutrient group) and early neonatal morbidity (seven days postpartum) was 58 percent lower (28 percent in placebo group; 14.8 percent in micronutrient group) in women who took a multivitamin.

"Compared with iron and folic acid supplementation, the administration of multimicronutrients to undernourished pregnant women may reduce the incidence of low birth weight and early neonatal morbidity," the authors conclude.

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