Wednesday, April 4, 2007

vitamin supplements can reduce risk of having underweight or undersized baby

Vitamin pills prevent low-weight babies Reuters/Yahoo!News 4/4/07 "The study, conducted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, involved 8,468 pregnant women who were free of the AIDS virus and who received iron and folic acid supplements, both proven prenatal treatments. Half were given supplements containing vitamins C, E and a mix of B vitamins. The rest got placebos...The fetal death rate stayed around 5 percent and the rate of premature delivery was nearly 17 percent regardless of whether mothers got the vitamins, the team, led by Wafaie Fawzi of Harvard University's School of Public Health, reported...But the risk of having a low birth-weight baby dropped from 9.4 percent among the placebo recipients to 7.8 percent for the babies whose mothers took the supplements...About 20 million low birth-weight babies are born each year, 96 percent of them in developing countries. Babies of low birth weight, defined as less than 5.5 pounds (2,500 grams), are more likely to die young, have growth and learning difficulties and may later be prone to diabetes and heart disease...Adding the extra vitamins, they said, would probably increase that cost by just 20 cents, "and scaling up prenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation could be a highly cost-effective approach to improving both outcomes among pregnant women in developing countries"

Here's an amazingly cheap and effective way to lower death rates of children and better the chances of healthier babies and healthier adults in the developing world. Let's hope foreign aid includes money for such soon - also maybe a few billionaires will see fit to invest in this, to get a program off the ground faster. Add choline (another very cheap supplement) to the mix and improve health further and fill the world with more intelligent folks.

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