16.12.2013

Inadequate nutrition during pregnancy

Although malnutrition's effects on this group have been recognized for decades, there has been little measurable progress in addressing the specific nutritional problems of women and adolescent girls. Adequate nutrition, a fundamental cornerstone of any individual's health, is especially critical for women because inadequate nutrition wreaks havoc not only on women's own health but also on the health of their children.
Women with adequate stores of iron and other micronutrients are less likely to suffer fatal infections and are more likely to survive bleeding during and after childbirth. Women are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies than men are, for reasons including women's reproductive biology, low social status, poverty, and lack of education.
During and after pregnancy, nutrition plays a crucial role in children’s health and development. Pregnancy, infancy and early childhood are the most significant periods of growth and development in the human life cycle.


Stunting is a known risk factor for obstetric complications such as obstructed labor and the need for skilled intervention during delivery, leading to injury or death for mothers and their newborns. They need protein, iron, and other micronutrients to support the adolescent growth spurt and meet the body's increased demand for iron during menstruation.
Nutrition education can help mothers make better choices and know “what to eat,” enabling them to improve their eating habits and those of their child. This should be a priority before pregnancy, during pregnancy, breastfeeding, early childhood and all stages of the life cycle. Globally, 50 percent of all pregnant women are anemic, and at least 120 million women in less developed countries are underweight.2 Research shows that being underweight hinders women's productivity and can lead to increased rates of illness and mortality.
Adolescents who become pregnant are at greater risk of various complications since they may not yet have finished growing.


Improving women's nutrition can also help nations achieve three of the Millennium Development Goals, which are commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress (see Table 1).
Pregnant adolescents who are underweight or stunted are especially likely to experience obstructed labor and other obstetric complications. This brief discusses the importance of improving women's nutrition and suggests policy options for achieving positive change.



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