Effect of Iron Supplementation During Pregnancy on Birthweight: Evidence from Zimbabwe

Type Journal Article - Food & Nutrition Bulletin
Title Effect of Iron Supplementation During Pregnancy on Birthweight: Evidence from Zimbabwe
Volume 26
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2005
Page numbers 338-347
URL http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
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 preg- nancy outcomes are not well documented for developing countries.
Objective. To examine the relation between iron sup- plementation 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 Zimba- bwe 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 (meas- ured 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 aver- age, 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 preg- nancy 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.

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