Need FOR Additional Nutrients to Meet THE Demand


A well nourished mother with a good reserve of nutrients can

meet the demands of the foetus without affecting her health. Such a

mother gives birth to a healthier baby with less complications

1. Malnutrition and foetus:

Chronic moderate malnutrition and anaemia during pregnancy may

result in still birth and Low Birth Weight (LBW) babies weighing less

than 2500g. A large number of such babies are premature (<37 weeks

of gestation) and rest suffer from Intra Uterine Growth Retardation

(IUGR). IUGR results in babies which are Small For Date (SFD) ie,

infants born after 40 weeks of gestation but small because of malnutrition

during intrauterine growth.

The risk of Low Birth Weight babies and the related neonatal

mortality is associated with one or more of the following factors.

· Low socioeconomic status.

· Poor maternal nutritional status.

· Small stature of the mother.

· Low prepregnancy weight for height.

· Biological immaturity (mothers less than 17 years).

· Low weight gain during pregnancy.

· Smoking, consumption of alcohol, use of drugs.

· Infectious diseases.

· Lack of education, poor knowledge on sound nutrition.

· Lack of motivation towards wanted pregnancy.The placenta of malnourished mothers have fewer cells than well

nourished mothers. The reduction in the number of cells reduces the

ability of the placenta to

i. synthesize substances required by the foetus

ii. transfer nutrients

iii. inhibit the passage of potentially harmful substances to the growing


3. Effect of malnutrition on maternal health:

A malnourished mother supplies nutrients to the foetus at the

expense of her own tissues. Multiple micronutrient deficiencies during

pregnancy like vitamin A, zinc, iron and folic acid are common and are

associated with complications during pregnancy and labour. This may

lead to abortion and even death of the mother.

4. Effect of malnutrition during infancy:

Inadequate nutrition during foetal life affects the health of the baby

during infancy. Such infants develop nutritional deficiency diseases like

rickets, anaemia or suffer from infectious diseases due to low resistance.

Hence it is essential to meet the increased nutritional needs of a

pregnant mother

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