Association of Antenatal Micronutrient Supplementation With Adolescent Intellectual Development in Rural Western China: 14-Year Follow-up From a Randomized Clinical Trial

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Abstract

Importance

The association of micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy with the intellectual development of adolescent offspring is unknown.

Objective

To assess the long-term association of antenatal micronutrient supplementation with adolescent intellectual development.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This 14-year follow-up study of a randomized clinical trial of micronutrient supplementation in pregnancy was conducted in 2 counties in rural western China in 2118 adolescent offspring (aged 10 to 14 years) of mothers who were randomized to take a daily capsule of either folic acid, folic acid plus iron, or multiple micronutrients from August 1, 2002, through February 28, 2006. Follow-up was conducted from June 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016. Data analyses took place from April 1, 2017, to June 20, 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Adolescent full-scale intelligence quotient and aspects of verbal comprehension, working memory, perceptual reasoning, and processing speed indexes were assessed by the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

Results

Of 2118 adolescent offspring, 1252 (59.1%) were boys and 866 (40.9%) were girls, with a mean (SD) age of 11.7 (0.87) years, representing 47.2% of the 4488 single live births that were eligible to participate. Compared with folic acid supplementation, multiple micronutrient supplementation was associated with a 1.13-point higher full-scale intelligence quotient (95% CI, 0.15-2.10) and a 2.03-point higher verbal comprehension index (95% CI, 0.61-3.45); similar results were found in comparison with folic acid plus iron. When mothers initiated supplementation early (<12 weeks of gestation) and had an adequate dose (≥180 capsules), multiple micronutrient capsules were associated with a 2.16-point higher full-scale intelligence quotient (95% CI, 0.41-3.90) and 4.29-point higher verbal comprehension index (95% CI, 1.33-7.24) compared with folic acid capsules. The mean test scores were lower in the substratum of supplementation initiated late (≥12 weeks of gestation) and with an inadequate dose (<180 capsules). The multiple micronutrient group had higher scores than the other 2 treatment groups, and significant differences were observed for full-scale intelligence quotient (adjusted mean difference, 2.46; 95% CI, 0.98-3.94) when compared with the folic acid plus iron group.

Conclusions and Relevance

Compared with folic acid plus iron or folic acid capsules supplementation, antenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation appeared to be associated with increased adolescent intellectual development; initiating supplementation in the first trimester and then continuing for at least 180 days were associated with the greatest rewards.

Trial Registration

isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN08850194

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