Multiple micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy: Empowering women’s health

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • In developing countries, women – especially those who are pregnant – are disproportionately affected by malnutrition. However, Multiple Micronutrient Supplements (MMS) has been identified as a crucial solution to close the female nutrient gap. 
  • In July, dsm-firmenich attended the Regional Women’s Nutrition Meeting in Ethiopia to address issues related to MMS policy, advocacy and implementation, to ultimately accelerate the scale-up of MMS in Africa. 
  • Read on to explore the outcomes of the meeting and dsm-firmenich’s role in providing MMS as a promising, science-backed solution to combat hidden hunger, improve antenatal care and reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes. 


Many mothers, women and girls around the world are undernourished, especially in developing countries. According to the United Nations, a shocking one billion females are malnourished.i There is an urgent need to improve access to nutritious food so that every woman can reach her full potential. Read on to explore the benefits of Multiple Micronutrient Supplements (MMS) for women of childbearing age, as well as learnings from the recent Regional Women’s Nutrition Meeting in Ethiopia, Africa. 

The challenges of hidden hunger 

In a world of plenty, why do so many people go without? The planet produces enough food for all, yet three billion people have at least one micronutrient deficiency – also known as hidden hunger.ii Women are often disproportionately affected by malnutrition, and this is especially true for those of childbearing age and in developing countries. Why? Poor quality diets and insufficient intake of essential vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, biotin, vitamins A, B6, B12, C and zinc makes it challenging to meet nutritional demands, which are heightened during pregnancy. The consequences of inadequate nutrient intake during this time can increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth and low birth weight.iii  As such, combating hidden hunger throughout the motherhood journey is a global priority. 

The power of Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation during pregnancy 

To improve antenatal care and reduce the occurrence of adverse birth outcomes, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a package of eight proven antenatal interventions, including MMS.iv The formulation is based on the United Nations International Multiple Micronutrient Antenatal Preparation (UNIMMAP) which contains 15 vitamins and minerals, including iron and folic acid in recommended dosages. A wealth of rigorous research supports the use of MMS over traditional iron-folic acid (IFA) supplements, highlighting its significant advantages for both mothers and babies. When compared to IFA alone, MMS offers the following benefits:v,vi 

  • Reduced risk of low birth weight by 12% 
  • Reduced risk of small-for-gestational-age by 9% 
  • Reduced number of stillbirths by 5% 
  • Reduced overall 6-month infant mortality by 17% 
  • Supports maternal anemia 

Women’s Nutrition Meeting: Improving access to Multiple Micronutrient Supplements 

Last month, dsm-firmenich’s nutrition improvement team attended the Healthy Mothers Healthy babies (HMHB) first Regional Nutrition Meeting in Ethiopia, Africa. Dr. Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, opened the event, bringing together national and global leaders, including over 120 representatives from 13 African nations, the African Union Commission, national governments and many other stakeholders, to share experiences in MMS policy, advocacy and implementation. To ultimately, accelerate the scale up of MMS in Africa.  

The event featured a range of sessions from assessing the status of maternal nutrition in Africa, current MMS programs and the challenges they face, including advocacy and financing for maternal nutrition. As well as raising awareness on MMS, building consensus, and turning experiences from different countries integrating MMS in antenatal care services into key learnings. The meeting also featured the launch of the Special Report by Sight and Life, Focusing On Multiple Micronutrient Supplements In Pregnancy.  

Finding cost effective MMS solutions emerged as a top priority for delegates at the event and our nutrition expert, Monique Smorenburg, Market Development Manager EMEA, dsm-firmenich addressed this topic in detail. Her talk titled ‘Producing UNIMMAP MMS for regional and national markets’ presented the details and considerations required when locally producing MMS in regional hubs. Monique commented: “It was a privilege to be able to present to national and global stakeholders at the meeting and share dsm-firmenich’s experience in setting up local production for MMS. It was encouraging to speak with many delegates that found the presentation inspiring and discuss possible strategies to implement regional hubs across Africa.” Monique also participated in a panel discussion on MMS supply, procurement and quality control on the final day of the event.  

The meeting was an incredible opportunity for connection! It was a gathering of important decision makers and influencers that are key in implementing the MMS roadmap in Africa. Our nutrition experts had the privilege of meeting many of these stakeholders, to build our portfolio of contacts and ultimately help accelerate the scale-up of MMS in this area.  

Multiple Micronutrient Supplements powered by dsm-firmenich 

dsm-firmenich offers an MMS solution that is supported by WHO and UNICEF and is commercially available for pregnant and lactating women. This solution is currently produced and manufactured in South Africa. However, we are working hard with our partners to offer more MMS solutions that are locally produced in various developing countries globally. 

Find out more about our MMS and other nutritional solutions that are empowering our customers’ products to change lives:


Published on

08 September 2023


4 min read

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