This new Cochrane Intervention Review assessed the effects of lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) for maternal, birth and infant outcomes in pregnant women. The secondary objectives were to explore the most appropriate composition, frequency and duration of LNS administration.
The Cochrane researchers included four studies with 8018 pregnant women. All four studies took place in stable community settings in low- and middle-income countries (Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi); no trials were conducted in emergency settings. One study compared LNS to iron folic acid (IFA), one study compared LNS to multiple micronutrients (MMN), and two studies compared LNS to both IFA and MMN.
The review authors found that: compared to IFA, LNS supplementation had a slight, positive effect on weight at birth, length at birth, small for gestational age and newborn stunting; LNS and MMN were comparable for all maternal, birth and infant outcomes; and both IFA and MMN were better at reducing maternal anaemia than LNS.
The review authors advise caution in interpreting the findings, since the evidence comes from only four studies, one of which (a large-scale study conducted in Bangladesh) is driving most of the impact.
Read the full review here.