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News - A pregnancy multi may prevent low birth weight

By Holly Taylor BSc (Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes and mental health problems later in life. Now, a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that women who take a pregnancy multinutrient are much less likely to give birth to an underweight baby.

The study included 149 healthy pregnant women from East London who were in their first trimester of pregnancy. The women’s nutrient status was measured at the beginning of the trial and at 26 and 34 weeks’ gestation. During the test period, half of the women were given a pregnancy multinutrient, while the rest were given dummy pills. Their babies were weighed at birth and were considered to be underweight if they measured less than 2.5kg (5.5lb).

The initial blood tests showed that many of the women were nutrient deficient, with 72% testing as low in vitamin D, 13% suffering from anaemia, 12% lacking in vitamin B1 and five per cent being low on folic acid. In the later blood tests, the mothers who had been taking the multinutrient showed significantly improved iron, folic acid and vitamin D levels, compared to those taking the dummy pills. In addition to this, the mothers who were taking the multinutrient were found to have half the risk of giving birth to an underweight baby, compared to those taking the dummy pills. The researchers are now calling for larger studies to confirm their findings. 

Article References

Brougha L et al. 2010. Effect of multiple-micronutrient supplementation on maternal nutrient status, infant birth weight and gestational age at birth in a low-income, multi-ethnic population. British Journal of Nutrition. Epub ahead of print

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