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Impact of scaling up prenatal nutrition interventions on human capital outcomes in low- and middle-income countries: a modeling analysis

Prenatal nutrition interventions can lead to improved birth outcomes, which in turn are associated with better education and human capital outcomes later in life. The objective of the study was to estimate the impact of scaling up iron-folic acid (IFA), calcium, multiple micronutrients (MMS), and balanced energy protein (BEP) supplementation for pregnant women, on human capital outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Mathematical modeling with proportional reductions in adverse birth outcomes to estimate the potential gains in school years and lifetime income due to scaling up each prenatal nutrition intervention. Estimates of intervention effects on birth outcomes were derived from meta-analyses of randomized trials, with estimates of the associations between birth outcomes and schooling and lifetime income derived from de novo meta-analyses of observational studies. It was concluded that increasing coverage of prenatal nutrition interventions in LMIC may lead to substantial gains in schooling and lifetime income. Decision makers should consider the potential long-term human capital returns of investments in maternal nutrition.

Oxford University Press Perumal et al. December 2021
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