Multivitamins play crucial role in pregnancy outcome

Related tags Weight gain Pregnancy

In a study in Tanzania, researchers have found that multivitamins
had an influential role in the pregnancies of the large proportion
of HIV-infected pregnant women. Vitamin supplementation
successfully prevented weight-loss, which can lead to prematurity
or even infant and maternal mortality.

An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​, reports that multivitamins improved weight gain patterns during pregnancy in HIV-infected women in Tanzania.

Maternal HIV infection is a particular problem of sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 13 million women of childbearing age are infected, noted the report. Pregnant women who are HIV positive are at serious risk for low birth weight infants or pre-term delivery. The progression of HIV infection is usually accompanied by opportunistic infections, diminished dietary intake, and nutrient malabsorption, resulting in weight loss.

Researchers led by Eduardo Villamor studied a large group of pregnant, HIV positive women from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and the effects that several different regimes of multivitamin supplement had on their pregnancy outcomes. They found that, during the third trimester, women who took multivitamins gained significantly more weight than women who did not.

Around 950 pregnant HIV-positive women who were between 12 and 27 weeks of gestation were enrolled at 4 clinics in Tanzania. The women averaged 25 years old, with an average weight of 57 kg at their first clinic visit. They were randomly assigned to participate in one of four regimes: a multivitamin supplement that did not include vitamin A; a vitamin A-alone supplement; a multivitamin supplement that included vitamin A; or, a placebo.

During the third trimester, multivitamin use was associated with a small increase in weight gain (averaging 304g) when compared to the placebo. The risk of weight loss or low weight gain after 26 weeks of gestation was 30 per cent less among women who took multivitamins, the researchers found.

They added that though there was no positive overall association between vitamin A and weight gain, women who received both vitamin A and a multivitamin gained more weight in the second trimester than any of the other groups, and had a 29 per cent lower risk of low weight gain at term.

The authors suggested that multivitamins may possibly improve weight loss patterns in pregnant women by slowing the progression of HIV disease, or by reducing the incidence and severity of secondary infections. The prevention of weight loss is an essential goal of multivitamin supplementation in HIV-infected women because fewer instances of foetal loss, prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation, and infant and maternal mortality will occur.

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