Background: The negative synergy between poor nutritional status and infectious diseases is doubly detrimental in pregnancy. In Sierra Leone, maternal malnutrition is amongst the highest in the world, while maternal mortality is high at 1320/100,000 live births and stunting in under-five is 37.9%, ranked 110/132 worldwide. Maternal malnutrition has been associated with preterm birth, small-for-gestational age infants, and poor maternal outcomes. Infants born prematurely or small-for-gestational age experience higher mortality and are at risk for stunting and decreased cognitive performance. Nutritional interventions alone during pregnancy may not be as effective in the setting of increased inflammation from repeated infections. Interventions are needed to improve maternal outcomes and reduce stunting in this population. Methods/design: This will be a prospective, randomized, controlled clinical effectiveness trial of an improved supplementary food plus anti-infective therapies compared to standard therapy in malnourished pregnant women. Pregnant women will be randomized to receive a low water activity, ready-to-use supplementary food plus five anti-infective interventions or the standard of care which is 3.5 kg corn/ soy blended flour with 350 mL vegetable oil every two weeks. The five anti-infective interventions are 1) insecticide-treated mosquito net at the time of enrollment into the study, 2) sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine given every 4 weeks, beginning at enrollment or at 13 weeks' gestation, whichever is later, 3)azithromycin at a dose of 1 g given once at enrollment (after first trimester)and again during 28-34 weeks of gestation, 4)single dose 400 mg albendazole given in second trimester, and 5) testing and treatment for bacterial vaginosis at enrollment and again at 28-34 weeks of gestation. Treatment will be provided for the duration of the pregnancy. The primary outcome measure will be birth length. Secondary outcomes in the mothers will include rates of maternal weight gain and increase in mid-upper arm circumference, and time to maternal anthropometric recovery. Secondary outcomes in the infants will include birth weight, birth head circumference, and linear and ponderal growth. Discussion: Malnutrition remains a major problem in the developing world with lasting maternal and infant consequences. Maternal malnutrition has been associated with intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight (LBW), pre-term delivery and poor cognitive development. Nutritional interventions alone have not been successful in reducing stunting. By bundling nutritional and anti-infective interventions, we aim to reduce intrauterine growth restriction and low birth weight in moderately malnourished pregnant women in Sierra Leone. If successful, this bundle can easily be implemented by governments or non-governmental organizations. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT03079388; Date: March 5, 2017.
- Intrauterine growth restriction
- Low birth weight
- Supplementary foods