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Folic Acid and Iron Linked to Better Baby Survival…

The Key Nutrients For Maternal and Infant Health

Taking Folic Acid and Iron Supplements during pregnancy
may reduce infant mortality up to age 7, suggests new
research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of
Public Health.

Supplements of Iron and Folic Acid reduced infant mortality by
31 per cent, according to findings published in the American
Journal of Epidemiology.

Furthermore, the supplements reduced the prevalence of low birth
weight by 16 per cent and the prevalence of maternal anaemia
during pregnancy and after the birth period by 50 per cent.

“To our knowledge this is the first time the long-term effects of
maternal Iron-Folic Acid supplementation on childhood survival
have been examined,”

“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,” reported the research team.

About 40 per cent of pregnant women worldwide are estimated
to be anaemic. Despite the existence of an international policy
for antenatal Iron-Folic Acid supplementation, women in many
developing countries fail to receive the necessary micronutrients,
added the researchers.

Almost 5,000 pregnant women in rural Nepal were recruited to take
part in the randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Women were
divided into five groups: One group received Folic Acid only, the
second group received Folic Acid plus Iron, the third received Folic
Acid plus Iron plus Zinc, the fourth received multiple micronutrients,
and the final group received Vitamin A and acted as the control

Out of the 4,130 babies born alive, 209 died in the first 3 months
and 8 were lost to follow-up. Of the 3,761 remaining, the researchers
report that 150 died between the ages of 3 months and 7 years,
while 152 were lost to follow-up.

Improved Survival Rates For Mothers

Children of mothers receiving the Folic Acid plus Iron supplements
had the lowest mortality rate of 10.3 per 1,000 child-years from birth
to age 7 years, compared to 13.4, 12.0, 14.0, and 15.2 for the Folic Acid, Folic Acid plus Iron plus Zinc, multiple micronutrients, and
contro groups, respectively.

“In a setting where maternal Iron deficiency and anaemia 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.” “And that such results provide additional motivation to increase
global programs for antenatal iron and Folic Acid supplementation”
the researchers concluded.

“Following their previous demonstration that Iron-Folic Acid
supplementation during pregnancy increased birth weight, the
researchers have now provided unique data on the critica
importance of this intervention for improving child survival. This
strong evidence should re-energize programs for the delivery
of this critical intervention for maternal and child health,”

Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
Published online
“Antenatal and Postnatal Iron Supplementation and Childhood
Mortality in Rural Nepal: A Prospective Follow-up in a Randomized,
controlled Community Trial”

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