Study finds multivitamins reduce risk of low birth weight


OTTAWA Prenatal multivitamin supplements are associated with a significantly reduced risk of babies with a low birth weight, compared with prenatal iron-folic acid supplementation, a study published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found.

The World Health Organization currently recommends iron-folic acid supplements for all pregnant women. Previous studies have not shown an advantage from prenatal multimicronutrient supplementation over iron-folic acid supplementation, study authors noted.

“Low birth weight and related complications are considered the most common cause of global infant mortality under the age of 5 years,” wrote Prakash Shah of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “With the possibility of reducing low birth weight rates by 17%, micronutrients supplementation to pregnant women … offers the highest possible return for the investment,” he added. The authors suggested that approximately 1.5 million babies born with a low birth weight could be avoided each year globally, out of the estimated 20.6 million low-weight births.

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