Compliance to prenatal iron and folic acid supplement use in relation to low birth weight in Lilongwe, Malawi

Aaron Thokozani Chikakuda, Dayeon Shin, Sarah S. Comstock, Su Jin Song, Won O. Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Prenatal iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements are offered free to all pregnant women in Malawi to reduce maternal anemia and improve birth outcomes. We investigated the association between self-reported compliance to IFA intake and risk of low birth weight (LBW). Pregnant women who attended Bwaila Maternity Wing of Lilongwe District Hospital for delivery were recruited (n = 220). We used a questionnaire to collect self-reported information on IFA use and maternal sociodemographic data. Before delivery, blood samples for maternal hemoglobin (Hb) and folate status, and upon delivery, birth weight, and other newborn anthropometrics were measured. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine risk of LBW by prenatal IFA intake. The self-reported number of IFA pills taken during pregnancy was positively associated with Hb, but not serum and RBC folate concentration: <45, 45–89 and ≥90 pills taken corresponded with mean (SD) Hb 10.7 (1.6), 11.3 (1.8), and 11.7 (1.6) g/dL, respectively (p = 0.006). The prevalence of LBW was 20.1%, 13.5% and 5.6% for those who reported taking IFA pills <45, 45–89, and ≥90 pills, respectively (p = 0.027). Taking >60 IFA pills reduced risk of LBW delivery (OR (95% CI) = 0.15 (0.03–0.70), p = 0.033) than taking ≤30 pills. Self-reported compliance to IFA use is valid for assessing prenatal supplement program in Malawi, especially Hb status, and can reduce the rate of LBW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1275
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 10 2018


  • Low birth weight
  • Malawi
  • Maternal anemia
  • Prenatal iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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