Nutrition and diet experts have urged women to build their nutritional status for at least six months before becoming pregnant to avoid giving birth to babies with low birth weight.
The nutrition experts stressed that women need good nutritional status before pregnancy, noting that women with poor nutritional status are usually anaemic.
They warned that women who are anaemic before pregnancy have higher chances of giving birth to babies with low birth weight.
They also noted that having good nutritional status is crucial in reducing malnutrition in children, stressing that malnutrition in babies starts from pregnancy.
The World Health Organisation defined low birthweight as weight less than 2500g at birth, warning that it contributes to a variety of pitiable health outcomes.
It says more than 80 per cent of the world’s 2.5 million newborns who die every year are of low birth weight.
According to WHO, those low birth weight babies who survive have a greater risk of stunting, and developmental and physical ill-health later in life, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, a Professor of Public Health Nutrition at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Beatrice Ogunba, said there was a strong relationship between the nutritional status of women before conception and the healthy development of pregnancy.
Profesor Ogunba, with specialisation in maternal and child nutrition, counselled women planning to get pregnant to ensure that they have good nutritional status before becoming pregnant.
“Iron is key when it has to do with pregnancy. When a woman’s nutritional status is poor in pregnancy, it has implications for the development of the baby. For those that are anaemic before pregnancy, if they don’t report to the hospital on time for the doctor to monitor their iron status, the chances of having a baby with low birth weight are high. Therefore, women who are anaemic before pregnancy, have higher chances of giving birth to babies with low birth weight.”
“So, it is important for women to build up their nutritional status before pregnancy. I will recommend a minimum of six months for women to begin to build their nutritional status before pregnancy by boosting their iron status for the baby to have enough iron when they are pregnant.”
“It is important because, in the first three months of pregnancy, most women have issues with food. Some find it difficult to eat. So, if a woman has enough iron before conception, even if she is finding it difficult to eat, the baby already has enough iron to fall back on”, she explained.
According to her, the baby will not have issues with development and formation if the mother has good nutritional status before conception.
@ Punch Newspaper