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Free Content The neglected ‘m’ in MCH programmes – why mental health of mothers is important for child nutrition

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Summary In most societies, mothers are the primary providers of nutrition and care to young children. This is a demanding task, and poor physical mental health in mothers might be expected to have adverse consequences on their children’s health, nutrition and psychological well-being. Child nutrition programmes do not adequately address maternal mental health. In this article, we consider the evidence from less developed countries on whether maternal mental health influences child growth, with respect to evidence from both observational studies and from clinical trials. We estimate how much of the burden of undernutrition might be averted in one setting, and propose that promoting maternal mental health and treating maternal mental illness offer important new opportunities to tackle the twin scourges of maternal ill-health and child undernutrition.

French
Dans la plupart des sociétés, les mères sont les premiers procureurs de nutrition et de soins aux jeunes enfants. Il s’agit là d’une tâche exigeante et, une mauvaise santé physique ou mentale de la mère pourrait avoir des conséquences néfastes sur la santé, la nutrition et le bien-être psychologique de l’enfant. Les programmes de nutrition de l’enfant ne répondent pas adéquatement à la santé mentale maternelle. Dans cet article, nous considérons les preuves provenant de pays moins développés que la santé mentale maternelle influence la croissance des enfants, en tenant compte de résultats d’études cliniques et d’observation. Nous estimons dans quelle mesure l’ampleur de la sous-alimentation pourrait être évitée dans l’endroit étudié et proposons que la promotion de la santé mentale maternelle et le traitement de la maladie mentale offrent d’importantes nouvelles possibilités pour lutter contre le fléau double de la mauvaise santé maternelle et de la sous alimentation infantile.
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Keywords: child growth; crecimiento infantil; croissance des enfants; developing countries; maternal health; mental health; nutrición; nutrition; pays en développement; países en vías de desarro; salud materna; salud mental; santé maternelle; santé mentale

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1:  Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK 2:  Department of Public Health, Temple University College of Health Professions, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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