Abstract Digest on Maternal and Child Nutrition Research – Issue 14

AD14This issue of the Abstract Digest features several systematic reviews, a special Maternal and Child Nutrition supplement, several interesting research articles, and reports. Many articles in this issue reiterate the importance of prenatal conditions and maternal nutrition to ensure healthy child growth. Here are some highlights:

  • Knaul and colleagues (2016) in a thoughtful commentary, question the current global definition of maternal health, which narrowly focuses on the period of pregnancy and child birth. They call for an inclusive person-centred approach rather than ailment-focused priority setting for an inclusive and integrated global health to ensure complete care for women.
  • Gernand et al (2016) reviewed micronutrient intake recommendations in pregnancy, risks and consequences of deficiencies especially in the low- and middle-income countries, and the effects of interventions with a particular emphasis on offspring. The authors identify an array of gaps in evidence (e.g., biological pathways and effects of single and multiple micronutrient interventions; identifying effective delivery strategies to influence diets and nutritional status in the context of food aversions and cultural practices during pregnancy) that need urgent attention to ensure optimum nutritional environment for growth. In a systematic review, Rahman et al (2016) find that maternal anemia remains a significant health problem adversely affecting birth and health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.
  • In a cluster-randomized study, Tripathy et al (2016) report that participatory women’s groups facilitated by accredited social health activists (ASHAs) are helpful in reducing neonatal mortality.
  • Using longitudinal multi-country data from Young Lives, Krishna et al (2016) show that the gap in the height-for-age Z score between low birth weight children and normal weight children narrows but remains, and is not influenced by wealth status.
  • Based on a systematic review, Kristjansson et. al (2016) suggest that supplementary food is effective for children under two years of age and for those who are poor or less well-nourished. The success of supplementary food programs depends on the quality and quantity of food and a reliable supply chain. Another systematic review finds that home fortification with multiple micronutrients in powder in complementary feeding has good adherence and is well accepted by caregivers (de Barros et al 2016). Weber et al (2016) examine the acceptability of locally produced ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) in four countries and find that the local RUTF is well tolerated in India. Based on literature review and qualitative analysis of the studies, Suri et al (2016) find fortified blended foods (FBF) with dairy to be beneficial in the treatment of children with moderate acute malnutrition.
  • Nandi et al (2016) find that children born in villages exposed to a food supplementation program were more likely to be enrolled in school and completed more years of schooling than children born in the control villages.
  • Using mixed methods, Srivastava et al (2016) examine the functionality of the Village Health, Sanitation, and Nutrition Committees (VHSNCs) and identify weaknesses (such as lack of role clarity, training, supportive supervision, linkages with the community and the health system) that require urgent attention, to make the VHSNCs effective.
  • The Maternal & Child Nutrition supplement on Stop Stunting in South Asia is a must-read that brings together a rich compendium of research that emphasizes the equal need for economic growth to invest in the public sector and an equal imperative to make the necessary program and policy investments to improve child feeding, women’s nutrition, and household sanitation.