Taking multivitamins during pregnancy can reduce a woman's risk of having underweight babies, according to new research.
The study by Canadian researchers challenges the World Health Organization strategy of recommending iron and folic acid supplements alone.
"Low birth weight and related complications are considered the most common cause of global infant mortality under the age of 5 years," said Dr. Prakash Shah and study co-authors from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
"With the possibility of reducing low birth weight rates by 17 percent, micronutrients supplementation to pregnant women, we believe, offers the highest possible return for the investment. These results are synthesized findings from 15 studies published worldwide," they added.
It is estimated that of the total 133 million births worldwide per year, 15.5 percent are low birth weight babies.
The researchers suggest that approximately 1.5 million babies born with a low birth weight could be avoided each year globally, if all mothers receive prenatal multimicronutrient supplementation.
The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).