Objective: To evaluate whether the fetal linear growth effects of maternal nutrition supplementation would be maintained through 6 months postnatal age. Study design: The Women First trial was a multicountry, individually randomized clinical trial that compared the impact of maternal nutrition supplementation initiated preconception (Arm 1) vs at ∼11 weeks of gestation (Arm 2), vs no supplement (Arm 3); the intervention was discontinued at delivery. Trial sites were in Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan. Analysis includes 2421 infants born to 2408 randomized women. Primary outcome was the trajectory of length-for-age z scores (LAZ) by arm, based on assessments at birth and 1, 3, and 6 months. We fitted longitudinal models on growth from birth to 6 months using generalized estimating equations; maternal intervention effects were evaluated, adjusting for site and baseline maternal covariates. Results: Linear growth for Arms 1 and 2 was statistically greater than for Arm 3 in 3 of the 4 countries, with average pairwise mean differences in LAZ of 0.25 (95% CI 0.15-0.35; P <.001) and 0.19 (95% CI 0.09-0.28; P <.001), respectively. Compared with Arm 3, average overall adjusted relative risks (95% CI) for stunting (LAZ <–2) were lower for Arms 1 and 2: 0.76 (0.66-0.87; P <.001) and 0.77 (0.67-0.88; P <.001), respectively. Conclusions: Improved linear growth in early infancy observed for the 2 intervention arms supports the critical importance of maternal nutrition before conception and in the early phase of gestation. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01883193.
- infant growth
- postnatal growth
- small quantity-lipid nutrient supplement (SQ-LNS)