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Open Access Effect of iron supplementation during pregnancy on birthweight: Evidence from Zimbabwe

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Abstract:

Background. Iron deficiency in pregnant women has been shown to reduce the oxygen supply to the fetus, cause intrauterine growth retardation, and increase the risk of premature delivery and reduced birthweight. Yet the effects of iron supplementation programs on pregnancy outcomes are not well documented for developing countries.

Objective. To examine the relation between iron supplementation of mothers during pregnancy and children's birthweight using data from a national population-based survey in Zimbabwe.

Methods. The analysis uses information on 3,559 births during the five years preceding the 1999 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey. The effect of iron supplementation during pregnancy on birthweight was estimated by multiple regression, controlling for potential confounding effects of prenatal care, child's sex and birth order, mother's education and nutritional status (measured by body-mass index), household living standard, smoke exposure, and other variables.

Results. Babies born to mothers who received iron supplementation during pregnancy were 103 g heavier (95% confidence interval, 42–164; p = .001), on average, than babies born to mothers who did not receive iron supplementation during pregnancy. The difference was 64 g (95% confidence interval, 2–125; p = .043) for children whose birthweights were taken from health cards and 163 g (95% confidence interval, 44–281; p = .008) for children whose birthweights were reported by their mothers.

Conclusions. Iron supplementation during pregnancy is associated with significantly higher birthweight, independent of other pregnancy care factors, mother's nutritional status, smoke exposure, and a number of demographic and socioeconomic factors. Prenatal iron supplementation programs can improve pregnancy outcomes and promote child survival in developing countries.

Keywords: BIRTHWEIGHT; IRON SUPPLEMENTATION; MICRONUTRIENTS; PREGNANCY OUTCOME; ZIMBABWE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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