Interventions to improve birth outcomes of pregnant women living in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review and network meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Background: Improving the health of pregnant women is important to prevent adverse birth outcomes, such as preterm birth and low birthweight. We evaluated the comparative effectiveness of interventions under the domains of micronutrient, balanced energy protein, deworming, maternal education, and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for their effects on these adverse birth outcomes. Methods: For this network meta-analysis, we searched for randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of interventions provided to pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We searched for reports published until September 17, 2019 and hand-searched bibliographies of existing reviews. We extracted data from eligible studies for study characteristics, interventions, participants’ characteristics at baseline, and birth outcomes. We compared effects on preterm birth (<37 gestational week), low birthweight (LBW; <2500 g), and birthweight (continuous) using studies conducted in LMICs. Results: Our network meta-analyses were based on 101 RCTs (132 papers) pertaining to 206,531 participants. Several micronutrients and balanced energy food supplement interventions demonstrated effectiveness over standard-of-care. For instance, versus standard-of-care, micronutrient supplements for pregnant women, such as iron and calcium, decreased risks of preterm birth (iron: RR=0.70, 95% credible interval [Crl] 0.47, 1.01; calcium: RR=0.76, 95%Crl 0.56, 0.99). Daily intake of 1500kcal of local food decreased the risks of preterm birth (RR=0.36, 95%Crl 0.16, 0.77) and LBW (RR=0.17, 95%Crl 0.09, 0.29), respectively when compared to standard-of-care. Educational and deworming interventions did not show improvements in birth outcomes, and no WASH intervention trials reported on these adverse birth outcomes. Conclusion: We found several pregnancy interventions that improve birth outcomes. However, most clinical trials have only evaluated interventions under a single domain (e.g. micronutrients) even though the causes of adverse birth outcomes are multi-faceted. There is a need to combine interventions that of different domains as packages and test for their effectiveness. Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018110446; registered on 17 October 2018.

publication date

  • 2019