Micronutrient deficiencies in early pregnancy are common, concurrent, and vary by season among rural nepali pregnant women

Tianan Jiang, Parul Christian, Subarna K. Khatry, Lee Wu, Keith P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Pregnant women in developing countries are vulnerable to multiple micronutrient deficiencies. We investigated their prevalence and seasonal variation as part of a baseline assessment in a population-based, maternal micronutrient supplementation trial conducted in the rural Southeastern plains of Nepal. Serum concentrations of 11 micronutrients were assessed in 1165 pregnant women in the 1st trimester before supplementation. Using defined cutoff values, the prevalence of deficiencies of vitamins A, E, and D were 7, 25, and 14%, respectively. Nearly 33% of the women were deficient in riboflavin, and 40 and 28% had serum vitamin B-6 and B-12 deficiencies, respectively. Only 12% of the women were folate deficient, but 61% were zinc deficient. The prevalence of low serum iron concentration was 40%, and 33% were anemic (hemoglobin < 110 g/L). Multiple micronutrient deficiencies were common among pregnant women. Over 10% of the pregnant women were both anemic and deficient in B-complex vitamins, whereas 22% of women were both anemic and zinc deficient. Only 4% of women had no deficiency, whereas ∼20% of the women had 2, 3, or 4 deficiencies. Almost 18% of women had ≥5 deficiencies. Micronutrient status varied by season; it was generally best during the winter months, except for serum vitamin D concentration, which peaked during the hot summer and monsoon months. Women in rural South Asia are likely to begin a pregnancy with multiple micronutrient deficiencies that may vary with seasonality in micronutrient-rich food availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1112
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Deficiency
  • Micronutrients
  • Nepal
  • Pregnancy
  • Season

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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