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BACKGROUND: Maternal nutrition in preconception and early pregnancy influences fetal growth. Evidence for effects of prenatal maternal nutrition on early child development (ECD) in low-income and middle-income countries is limited. OBJECTIVES: To examine impact of maternal nutrition supplementation initiated prior to or during pregnancy on ECD, and to examine potential association of postnatal growth with ECD domains. DESIGN: Secondary analysis regarding the offspring of participants of a maternal multicountry, individually randomised trial. SETTING: Rural Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, India and Pakistan. PARTICIPANTS: 667 offspring of Women First trial participants, aged 24 months. INTERVENTION: Maternal lipid-based nutrient supplement initiated preconceptionally (arm 1, n=217), 12 weeks gestation (arm 2, n=230) or not (arm 3, n=220); intervention stopped at delivery. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The INTERGROWTH-21st Neurodevelopment Assessment (INTER-NDA) cognitive, language, gross motor, fine motor, positive and negative behaviour scores; visual acuity and contrast sensitivity scores and auditory evoked response potentials (ERP). Anthropometric z-scores, family care indicators (FCI) and sociodemographic variables were examined as covariates. RESULTS: No significant differences were detected among the intervention arms for any INTER-NDA scores across domains, vision scores or ERP potentials. After adjusting for covariates, length-for-age z-score at 24 months (LAZ24), socio-economic status, maternal education and FCI significantly predicted vision and INTER-NDA scores (R2=0.11-0.38, p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal maternal nutrition supplementation was not associated with any neurodevelopmental outcomes at age 2 years. Maternal education, family environment and LAZ24 predicted ECD. Interventions addressing multiple components of the nurturing care model may offer greatest impact on children's developmental potential. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT01883193.

Original publication




Journal article


Arch Dis Child

Publication Date





622 - 631


child development, growth, Pregnancy, Child, Humans, Female, Infant, Child, Preschool, Dietary Supplements, Gestational Age, Child Development, Anthropometry, Poverty