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Evidence-Based Interventions That Improve Maternal and Child Nutrition

June 17, 2013

On June 8, in London, presidents, prime ministers, businesspeople, and philanthropists came together to sign the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact. The event, hosted by the governments of Brazil and the U.K. and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, resulted in commitments to accelerate progress toward improving nutrition for children and mothers around the globe.

In London's Hyde Park, activists laid a carpet of flower petals to represent the lives of children lost each year through malnutrition. Photo by Ismar Badzic via Flickr.

In London’s Hyde Park, activists laid a carpet of flower petals to represent the lives of children lost each year through malnutrition. Photo by Ismar Badzic via Flickr.

Simultaneously, the Lancet published its second paper in a series on maternal and child nutrition. The authors of the study estimate that poor nutrition is the root cause of 45% of child deaths (3.1 million deaths among children under age five each year). 

The report builds on a similar report from 2008 and highlights the progress achieved since then. For example, the number of the world’s children who never grow to their potential height has dropped steadily over the past two decades, from more than 253 million in 1990 to 167 million in 2010.

But according to the new report, far more can still be done. The authors estimate that close to 15% of all deaths in children under five can be prevented, and at least a fifth of all stunting avoided, if 10 nutrition-specific interventions are scaled up to 90% coverage in the 34 countries most affected by malnutrition.

These evidence-based interventions include

  • providing periconceptual folic acid supplements, balanced energy protein supplements, calcium supplements, and micronutrient supplements to pregnant women.
  • promoting breastfeeding and delivering appropriate complementary feeding to infants.
  • providing vitamin A and zinc supplements to children up to the age of five.
  • implementing strategies to manage moderate and severe acute malnutrition.

To read the executive summary of the full report (available to download for free), go to: http://download.thelancet.com/flatcontentassets/pdfs/nutrition-eng.pdf. Amy M. Collins, editor

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