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Effect of a nutrient-rich, food-based supplement given to rural Vietnamese mothers prior to and/or during pregnancy on birth outcomes: A randomized controlled trial.


Obtaining a nutrient-rich diet during pregnancy is a challenge for pregnant women living in low-income countries. This randomized, controlled trial was designed to determine if a freshly prepared food supplement from local animal-source foods and dark-green leafy vegetables given prior to and/or during pregnancy improved birth outcomes in rural Vietnamese women. Primiparous women, 18 to 30 years of age, who participated in the study were assigned to one of three groups: PC-T women received the supplement from pre-conception to term, MG-T women received the supplement from mid-gestation to term, and the RPC women received routine prenatal care. Supplement intake was observed and quantified. Infant anthropometry was measured at birth and/or within seven days of delivery. The effect of the intervention on maternal and birth outcomes was determined using linear regression modeling. Of the 460 women enrolled in the study, 317 women completed the study. Those not completing the study had either moved from the area, did not conceive within 12 months of study enrollment, or miscarried. The food-based supplement increased protein, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A and B12 intakes in the PC-T and the MG-T groups. However, it failed to alter infant anthropometric measurements at birth. In the entire cohort, maternal gestational weight gain was greater in women with a low pre-pregnancy BMI (<18.5) and in women with a higher educational attainment. Working as a farmer reduced gestational weight gain but it did not affect birth weight or length. In summary, a nutrient-rich, food-based supplement given to rural Vietnamese women from pre-conception to term or mid-gestation to term did not affect maternal or infant outcomes. The low weight gains, possibly due to demanding farm work done throughout the reproductive cycle, may have obviated any effects of the low energy, nutrient-rich food supplement on birth outcomes. Trial registration : Registered Clinical NCT01235767.

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