Prenatal food and micronutrient supplementation to malnourished women in Bangladesh : Effects, Equity, and Cost-effectiveness
Abstract: Maternal nutrition is closely linked to child health and survival. In Bangladesh there is a high prevalence of undernutrition in the form of chronic energy deficiency [CED, Body Mass Index <18.5 (kg/m2)] in women and low birth weight. The aims of this thesis are to explore women’s perceptions of maternal undernutrition, to analyse the association between prenatal food supplementation and birth weight (BW), to analyse whether food- and multiple micronutrient interventions generate pro-disadvantaged equity in child survival, and to examine whether an early prenatal invitation to food supplementation and multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) represents value for money in infant survival compared to invitation to food supplementation at usual time combined with 60 mg iron and 400 µg folic acid (standard practice).The study on women’s perceptions (n=236) was nested into the MINIMat randomized trial where women (n=4436) were allocated to early (E), or usual (U) time of invitation to prenatal food supplementation and 30 mg iron with 400 µg folic acid, or 60 mg iron with 400 µg folic acid, or MMS. Live births (n=3625) were followed-up. The analyses of equity and cost-effectiveness were based on this trial. A cohort design (n=619) was employed for the analysis of food supplements and BW.Women perceived maternal undernutrition as a serious health problem and attached very low scores to CED in pregnancy. An average of four months of prenatal food supplementation increased BW by 118 g. An early invitation to prenatal food supplementation and MMS lowered mortality in children before the age of five years and reduced social disparity in child survival chances. An increment from standard practice to E-MMS averted one extra infant death at a cost of US$797 to US$907, and saved one extra life year at a cost of US$27 to US$30.High priority should be given to the nutritional status of pregnant women in societies where undernutrition and food insecurity occurs. Prenatal food supplementation has the potential to significantly increase BW, and an early initiation of prenatal food supplementation combined with MMS was considered cost-effective in lowering infant mortality and increase social equity in child survival chances.
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