Antenatal interventions to address harmful behaviors and psychosocial risk factors in the prevention of low birth weight

Annariina M. Koivu, Pieta K. Näsänen-Gilmore, Patricia J. Hunter, Yvonne Muthiani, Jaana Isojärvi, Otto Heimonen, Kalpana Bastola, Leon Csonka, Per Ashorn, Ulla Ashorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Risk factors related to the harmful behaviors, psychosocial wellbeing, and socio-economic circumstances in the lives of pregnant women can lead to adverse birth outcomes, including low birth weight (LBW). Objective: This systematic search and review aims to provide a comparative evidence synthesis on the effect of eleven antenatal interventions targeted to address psychosocial risk factors on adverse birth outcomes. Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and CINAHL Complete between March 2020 and May 2020. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and reviews of RCTs of eleven antenatal interventions for pregnant females reporting LBW, preterm birth (PTB), small-for-gestational-age or stillbirth as outcomes. For interventions where randomization was either not feasible or unethical, we accepted non-randomized controlled studies. Results: Seven records contributed data to the quantitative estimates of the effect sizes and 23 contributed to narrative analysis. Psychosocial interventions for reducing smoking in pregnancy likely reduced the risk of LBW, and professionally provided psychosocial support for at-risk women possibly reduced the risk of PTB. Financial incentives or nicotine replacement therapy as smoking cessation aids, or virtually delivered psychosocial support did not appear to reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes. The available evidence on these interventions was primarily from high-income countries. For other reviewed interventions (psychosocial interventions to reduce alcohol use, group based psychosocial support programs, intimate partner violence prevention interventions, antidepressant medication, and cash transfers) there was little evidence in any direction regarding the efficacy or the data was conflicting. Conclusions: Professionally provided psychosocial support during pregnancy in general and specifically as a means to reduce smoking can potentially contribute to improved newborn health. The gaps in the investments for research and implementation of psychosocial interventions should be addressed to better meet the global targets in LBW reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S148-S159
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue numberSupplement 2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • antenatal care
  • Low birth weight
  • low- and middle-income countries
  • pregnancy
  • preterm birth
  • psychosocial interventions
  • psychosocial support
  • smoking

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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