Mortality rates reduced among children whose mothers received iron-folic acid supplements

Oct 28, 2009

Offspring whose mothers had been supplemented with iron-folic acid during pregnancy had dramatically reduced mortality through age 7, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers found that other supplement combinations, including the multiple micronutrient supplement, did not confer the same benefit. Nearly 40 percent of pregnant women worldwide are estimated to be anemic. Although there is an international policy for antenatal iron-folic acid supplementation, coverage and use of this antenatal intervention is low in many developing countries. The results are featured in the September 24 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"In a setting where maternal iron deficiency and anemia are common, we found a 31 percent reduction in childhood mortality due to maternal antenatal and postnatal supplementation with iron-folic acid compared to a control," said Parul Christian, DrPH, MSc, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health. "A reduction in mortality resulting from an intervention, such as iron-folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, provides a new and previously unreported evidence of benefit to offspring during childhood. To our knowledge this is the first time the long-term effects of maternal iron-folic acid supplementation on childhood survival have been examined."

Christian and colleagues examined the long-term impact of micronutrient supplementation on childhood survival, growth, and early markers of chronic disease among the offspring of women who received micronutrient supplementation. The study is a follow-up to a 1999 to 2001 randomized, double-masked trial of the administration of micronutrients during pregnancy to women in the rural southern plains district of Sarlahi, Nepal. At the time the team examined ; folic acid-iron; folic acid-iron-zinc, as well as a multiple micronutrients that contained the foregoing plus 11 other micronutrients. Vitamin A alone was provided in the control group and each of the four supplement groups also contained vitamin A. They found that iron-folic acid supplementation relative to the control significantly reduced the prevalence of low birth weight by 16 percent and the prevalence of maternal anemia during pregnancy and the postpartum period by 50 percent.

"Supplementation with iron and folic acid during pregnancy is a common policy in many low- and middle-income countries, although implementation is typically not very good," said James Tielsch, PhD, professor and associate chair for academic programs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. "This policy has been motivated primarily by the beneficial effects of supplementation on in pregnancy and maternal iron stores. Following their previous demonstration that iron-folic acid supplementation during increased birth weight, Christian, et al., have now provided unique data on the critical importance of this intervention for improving child survival. This strong evidence should reenergize programs for the delivery of this critical intervention for maternal and child health."

More information: "Antenatal and Postnatal Iron Supplementation and Childhood Mortality in Rural Nepal: A Prospective Follow-up in a Randomized, controlled Community Trial" was written by Parul Christian, Christine P. Stewart, Steven C. LeClerq, Lee Wu, Joanne Katz, Keith P. West Jr., and Subarna K Khatry.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (news : web)

Explore further: Eight ways zinc affects the human body

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Multivitamins in pregnancy reduce risk of low birth weights

Jun 08, 2009

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

Folic acid linked to increased cancer rate

Nov 02, 2007

Two recent commentaries appearing in the November issue of Nutrition Reviews find that the introduction of flour fortified with folic acid into common foods was followed by an increase in colon cancer diagnoses in the U. ...

Folic acid cuts risk of cleft lip

Jan 26, 2007

Taking folic acid supplements in early pregnancy seems to substantially reduce the risk of cleft lip, finds a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Maternal exposure to folic acid antagonists increases risks

Dec 01, 2008

Exposure to folic acid antagonists during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of placenta-mediated adverse outcomes such as preeclampsia, placental abruption, fetal growth restriction or fetal death reports a retrospective ...

Recommended for you

Sense of smell fades with age

10 hours ago

Food can be one of those unexpected flash points of late life. Grandma may say she's never hungry or that the only things that taste good are salty foods such as French fries. Grandpa may lose control over his sweet tooth, ...

Report: Retaliation for complaints common at VA

12 hours ago

A report by a private government watchdog says medical professionals across the country have pointed out problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, only to suffer retaliation from supervisors and other high-ranking officials.

User comments : 0