Talking Nutrition Editors
Adequate prenatal nutrition is essential to giving a child a healthy start, particularly as the first 1,000 days of an infant’s life are the most critical for development and growth. In many instances, this can be achieved through a diverse diet and the addition of vitamin and mineral-rich foods.
However, in low and middle-income populations, many women do not receive adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. This is often intensified by the fact that multiple micronutrient (MMN) deficiencies often worsen throughout pregnancy, as there is an increased need for micronutrients to support both a woman’s health and the requirements of her baby during this time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends taking iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements throughout pregnancy, and has done so since 1968. Yet, growing evidence indicates that intake of MMN supplements, starting early in pregnancy, provides additional benefits to women and both unborn and newborn infants.
MMN supplements are custom-made micronutrient supplements, each one specially formulated for its target purpose. When developed for pregnant women, or those that are breastfeeding, MMN supplements can provide 15 or more essential micronutrients that are scientifically proven to benefit the overall health of both the mother and the infant, beyond IFA supplementation alone. It is recommended that mothers take these supplements throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding to ensure that infants receive adequate levels of vitamins and minerals.
Many studies have demonstrated the positive effects MMN supplements have on birth outcomes. In meta-analyses, MMN supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of pre-term birth (4% to 8%), of a low birthweight in infants (12%), as well as of the number of small-for-gestational-age newborn infants (3% to 8%). Research has also demonstrated a decrease in infant mortality at six months of age (by 29%) in anemic women and a risk reduction in preterm births by -16% among underweight women.
Increased education for pregnant and breastfeeding women about the benefits of MMNs is essential to encouraging adherence to a daily MMN supplementation regimen throughout pregnancy and supporting positive health outcomes for the mother and baby.
DSM’s latest whitepaper explores the benefits of MMN supplementation in detail and sets out to establish how ongoing education and information transparency will help mothers worldwide to better understand the role that MMN supplementation can play in supporting their health and that of their children.
The publication of the whitepaper coincides with International Women’s Day which will be celebrated worldwide on 8th March. With a theme of #BalanceforBetter, there is a clear opportunity for governments worldwide to implement stronger policies on maternal supplementation to ensure balanced diets for expectant mothers worldwide.
Anthony Hehir, Director – Nutrition Improvement, DSM Nutritional Products Human Nutrition & Health commented, “DSM has been a strong global advocate of maternal nutrition improvement and, with our experience in the field of nutrition during pregnancy, and expertise in tackling malnutrition within low-income populations, DSM has the know-how to support multiple micronutrient supplementation interventions globally. As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, we are proud to be helping to address the balance in maternal nutrition worldwide.”
Find out more about how DSM supports the development of MMNs to help improve the balance in maternal nutrition worldwide.