Background: Few data exist for the effects of multiple micronutrient (MM) or food supplementation to undernourished pregnant women on their offsprings’ development.
Objective: We aimed to compare the effects on infant development of early (8–10 wk gestation) or usual (17 wk gestation) supplementation with food and MM, 30 mg Fe 400 g folate, or 60 mg Fe 400 g folate.
Design: A large, randomized, controlled trial of pregnancy supplementation was conducted in Bangladesh. A subsample of infants (n 2853) were assessed on 2 problem-solving tests (support and cover tests), the motor index of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, and Wolke’s behaviour ratings at 7 mo of age.
Results: There were no significant effects of any intervention in the group as a whole. However, infants of undernourished mothers [body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) 18.5] who received early food supplementation performed slightly but significantly (P 0.035) better on the support test than did infants of mothers who received usual food supplementation (z score: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.33). There were no benefits in infants of higher-BMI mothers (P 0.024 for BMI food interaction). Children of low-BMI mothers who received MMs had slightly better motor scores (z score: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.08, 0.48) and activity ratings (z score: 0.24; 95% CI: 0.037, 0.45) than did those who received 30 mg Fe 400 g folate, whereas other children did not benefit (P 0.05 for both motor scores and BMI micronutrients and for activity and BMI micronutrients).
Conclusions: Small benefits from early food and MM supplementation were found in infants of low-BMI but not of high-BMI mothers. However, the benefits were of doubtful functional importance, and longer follow-up is required to determine programmatic implications.