dsm-firmenich outlines the importance of maternal nutrition at Maternal & Child Nutrition Conference 2022 in Mumbai

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors


  • Globally across low-and middle-income populations, many mothers do not reach an adequate status of essential vitamins and minerals. As a result, there is an increased need for micronutrient supplementation to support both a woman’s health and the requirements of her baby during pregnancy and early development.
  • During the Maternal & Child Nutrition Conference in Mumbai,  scientific experts from dsm-firmenich outlined the importance of maternal nutrition before, during and after pregnancy focusing on strategies that can be utilized to tackle maternal and child nutrition issues across India. 
  • Read on to discover the top takeaways from the conference that will help innovators transform maternal nutrition solutions into purpose-led products. 

The nutritional status of mothers and children during the first 1,000 days – between conception and a child’s second birthday – is essential for a child to reach key developmental milestones. Adequate micronutrient intake is difficult to achieve through diet alone (particularly a vegetarian diet which is preferred across India), especially due to the increased nutritional needs of the mother during pregnancy. In low-and-middle income populations in particular, many women do not consume adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals during this critical window. 

The two-day Maternal & Child Nutrition Conference held in Mumbai recently brought together leading maternal nutrition brands, start-ups, healthcare practitioners and manufacturers from across India to discuss evolving ways of tackling maternal nutrition challenges and micronutrient deficiencies amongst mothers and children. As a Title Partner at the conference, dsm-firmenich spotlighted a number of speakers who focused on topics ranging from innovative and low-cost solutions for maternal and child nutrition, to new science surrounding human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). We’ve outlined our key takeaways from the event below:

HMOs: essential for infant health

During the conference, dsm-firmenich’s Danica Bajic introduced new science behind HMOs and their potential within the Indian market. Global consensus supports breastfeeding as the gold standard to give new-borns the best start in life. However, when mothers cannot breastfeed (or choose not to), a safe and suitable breastmilk substitute should be available and fed to newborns. 

HMOs, a bioactive component of breastmilk, are a recent innovation in the early life nutrition market. As an emerging ingredient with a role in shaping a healthy gut microbiome, maintaining a strong immune system and supporting optimal brain development, HMOs are attracting increasing attention as a result of the benefits they could bring. The industry has only just begun to translate academic research into clinically validated infant nutrition products due to the market historically lacking the advanced technology needed to create high-quality and safe HMOs on a large scale. dsm-firmenich is pioneering the future of innovation in the global HMO market through its science-backed GlyCareTM HMO portfolio and customized solutions, helping customers worldwide leverage the benefits of HMOs to launch purpose-led infant nutrition products. 

DHA for maternal and infant nutrition

Breast milk naturally contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a crucial role in infant brain growth and development.1 Experts in infant nutrition have endorsed the presence of both DHA and ARA in infant and follow-on formula during this crucial window of rapid brain development.2 Globally, 10.6% of live birth is pre-term which is a leading cause of death among children younger than 5 years of age.3 A recent Cochrane review shows that DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) supplementation during pregnancy lowered the risk of having a preterm baby by 11% and an early preterm baby by 42%, demonstrating the crucial role DHA plays in healthy pregnancy outcomes.4

The importance of finding solutions to reduce the risk of preterm births was highlighted in a presentation by dsm-firmenich’s Dr. Taichi Inui, Science Translation & Advocacy Asia Pacific Manager. When it comes to meeting moms’ preferences for maternal nutrition, there is a growing need for convenient solutions and trustworthy plant-based ingredients that support both maternal and infant health. Dr. Inui explored the role of dsm-firmenich’s life’s portfolio with a focus on life’sDHATM which is made from sustainably sourced algae, offering potent solutions with zero impact on marine life. life’sDHATM is the only 550mg/g natural triglyceride DHA ingredient on the market, helping mothers and babies reach their daily omega-3 requirements for healthy pregnancies and infant development with minimal impact to the environment. dsm-firmenich’s mission is to develop purpose-led products that are good for both people and the planet; therefore, the life’sTM portfolio is the perfect solution to offer mothers and babies superior omega-3 and omega-6 support with sustainability at the forefront of product development.

Malnutrition in mothers: what’s the risk?

About one third of the world’s population suffers from hidden hunger, a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals while meeting energy intake requirements. The impact of hidden hunger starts early and can impede a child’s ability to reach their full potential as they develop. dsm-firmenich’s Aakanksha Nayyar, Marketing Manager, South Asia discussed the increased education that is needed for pregnant and breastfeeding women in detail. In low- and middle-income countries, many women are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals and there needs to be improved education surrounding the benefits of a multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) regime. MMS are custom-made micronutrient supplements with each one specially formulated for its target purpose. When developed for pregnant or breastfeeding women. MMS supplements can provide 15 or more essential micronutrients scientifically proven to benefit the overall health of both mother and infant. 

A trial investigating the effect of maternal MMS on fetal outcomes in Indonesia showed that it reduced early infant mortality by 18%, especially in undernourished and anemic women, in comparison to those given iron and folic acid supplements (IFA) alone.5 A follow-up study then reported improved child cognition at 3.5 years of age compared to the intake of iron and folic acid supplements (IFA) alone.6 These positive results demonstrate the value that MMS can bring to pregnant women and their children over IFA supplementation. MMS intervention has the potential to empower women and allow children to perform better in school and later in life – which will also ultimately fuel economic growth. 

Reimagining the future of maternal and infant nutrition

dsm-firmenich has prioritized the issue of malnutrition for over a decade and has been a strong global advocate of maternal nutrition improvement. Adequate nutrition is a universal human right, and not only for those who can afford it. dsm-firmenich’s Nutrition Improvement team has worldwide capabilities and works with partners across the globe to develop and provide high-quality premixes and solutions that are affordable, accessible and tailored to the needs of any part of society that is at risk of malnutrition. 

With strong experience in the field of maternal nutrition, and expertise in tackling malnutrition within low-income populations, dsm-firmenich has the know-how to support supplementation interventions across the world. This will ensure that pregnant women in low and middle-income countries can meet the recommended levels of micronutrients for optimal maternal nutrition and infant development. dsm-firmenich’s portfolio of market-ready solutions aims to address malnutrition and hidden hunger offering safe, easy-to-use and affordable supplementation to fill micronutrient gaps in the diets of malnourished individuals in nutrition intervention programs.

Partner with dsm-firmenich and discover how a partnership together can help support moms and babies with trusted, reliable and effective nutritional solutions for early life. 


  • Essentials for early life
  • Nutritional Lipids
  • HMOs
  • life’sDHA
  • Early Life
  • Industry News
  • Senior Management
  • Marketing
  • Article

Published on

18 May 2022


6 min read

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  1. Dobbing, J. and J. Sands, Quantitative growth and development of human brain. Arch Dis Child, 48(10): p. 757--‐67, 1973. Lipid Res, 40(1--‐2): p. 1--‐94, 2001.
  2. Tounian, P. et al., ‘Why to care about lipid deficiencies in paediatrics?’, Réalitiés Pédiatriques, 2019.
  3. Chawanpaiboon, S., et al., "Global, regional, and national estimates of levels of preterm birth in 2014: a systematic review and modelling analysis.", 2019 The Lancet Global Health 7(1): e37-e46.
  4. Middleton P et al. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11
  5. SUMMIT Study Group, ‘Effect of maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation on fetal loss and infant death in Indonesia: a double-blind cluster-randomised trial’ Lancet vol. 371, 2008 p. 215-227
  6. SUMMIT Study Group, ‘Maternal multiple micronutrient supplements and child cognition: a randomized trial in Indonesia’, Pharmacol Res, vol. 70, no. 1, 2013, p13-19

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