Effects of protein energy supplementation during pregnancy on fetal growth

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Balanced protein energy supplementation given to pregnant women with energy or protein deficit appears to improve fetal growth, increase birth weight and height, and decrease the percentage of low birth weight. Supplements with excess protein provided to women with a diet already containing adequate protein may conversely impair fetal growth. There is also no consensus on the best time to start supplementation. Strong quality studies examining adequate criteria to screen women who would benefit from supplementation, time to start supplementation, and type of supplements are warranted.

Diet during pregnancy is an important factor in assuring adequate fetal growth. Studies have been conducted to assess the effects of Protein Energy Supplementation (PES) during pregnancy on fetal growth. This paper aimed to review such studies, however no effective method for selecting women eligible for trial was identified. Twenty studies were analyzed (11 randomized control trials, 8 controlled before and after and 1 proposed trail). It was found that PES showed improved fetal growth, increased birth weight and height, as well as a decrease in percentage of infants with low birth weight. Supplements provided to women with adequate protein diets may adversely affect fetal growth. No conclusion on the best time to start PES was reached.

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