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Open Access Opportunities for improving maternal nutrition and birth outcomes: Synthesis of country experiences

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Background. Undernutrition in women in poor countries remains prevalent and affects maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) outcomes. Improving MNCH outcomes requires better policies and programs that enhance women's nutrition.

Objective. The studies aimed to better understand awareness, perceptions, barriers to intervention, and policy and program priorities and approaches, through different platforms, addressing three related priority problems: anemia, intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR), and maternal thinness and stunting (including incomplete growth with early pregnancy).

Methods. Results of a global literature review on program effectiveness, and from case studies in Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria, were synthesized.

Results and conclusions. Anemia can be reduced by iron-folate supplementation, but all aspects for successful implementation, from priority to resources to local capacity, require strengthening. For IUGR, additional interventions, of food supplementation or cash transfers, may be required for impact, plus measures to combat early pregnancy. Breaking the intergenerational cycle of women's undernutrition may also be helped by child nutrition programs. Potential interventions exist and need to be built on: iron-folate and multiple micronutrient supplementation, food fortification (including iodized salt), food supplementation and/or cash transfer programs, combatting early pregnancy, infant and young child nutrition. Potential platforms are: the health system especially antenatal care, community-based nutrition programs (presently usually child-oriented but can be extended to women), child health days, safety net programs, especially cash transfer and conditional cash transfer programs. Making these more effective requires system development and organization, capacity and training, technical guidelines and operational research, and advocacy (who takes the lead?), information, monitoring and evaluation.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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