Balanced protein energy supplementation beneficial during pregnancy

April 2011

A mother’s nutritional status prior to pregnancy and her nutrition during pregnancy can result in intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), which is associated with poorer cognitive development during childhood and increased risk of cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal diseases later in life. In a review published in Biomed Central Public Health in April 2011, researchers examined the evidence for the effect of balanced protein energy supplementation during pregnancy on birth outcomes to produce a point estimate for the intervention’s inclusion in the Lives Saved Tool (LiST, see Balanced protein energy supplementation was defined as nutritional supplementation during pregnancy in which proteins provided less than 25 percent of the total energy content. From 11 studies selected from more than 4,000 potential studies, the primary outcomes examined were incidence of small for gestational age (SGA) birth, mean birth weight, and neonatal mortality.

The review’s meta-analysis found a 31 percent (95 percent confidence interval = 15 percent to 44 percent) reduction in the risk of delivering a SGA infant with balanced protein energy supplementation during pregnancy, with the effect more pronounced in malnourished women. In addition, mean birth weight increased significantly in infants of supplemented women. There was no statistically significant effect of supplementation on neonatal mortality. The authors recommend the 31 percent point estimate for inclusion in the LiST tool, and that balanced protein energy supplementation should be scaled up in developing countries to address IUGR and its negative long-term consequences.

Effect of balanced protein energy supplementation during pregnancy on birth outcomes