Maternal undernutrition affects fetal growth and is common in low- and middle income countries. Inconclusive data exist on the impact of small quantity energy supplements fortified with micronutrients, such as lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) among pregnant women. This meta-analysis was carried out to evaluate the effect of prenatal LNS supplementation on birth outcomes (i.e weight, length, head circumference, incidence of low birth weight and anthropometric z scores).
Randomized controlled trials evaluating the effect of LNS among pregnant women were identified through a systematic search on Medline and EMBASE in January 2016. Meta-analysis were conducted using a random effects model for birth outcomes reported from more than three trials.
Of 118 screened publication, four trials (n = 6560) were included in this review. Infant born to women who consumed LNS during pregnancy had a 38.6 g increased birth weight compared to controls ([95% CI: 16.61, 60.92], P < 0.001). There were minimal differences in birth length (mean differences (MD): 0.23 [95% CI:0.11, 0.34], P < 0.001) and head circumferences (MD: 0.04 [95% CI: -0.08, 0.17], P = 0.15). The pooled estimate of risk ratio for incidence of low birth weight (RR: 0.90 [95% CI: 0.83, 0.99], P < 0.05) suggest that LNS may reduce events of low birth weight.
Lipid-based nutrient supplement during pregnancy have the potential to increase the birth weight. However, only four trials were identified. Additional high-quality data is needed to evaluate the overall effect of prenatal LNS supplementation on pregnancy outcomes.