‘Pregnant women suffer malnutrition’

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THE Health and Child Care ministry has expressed concern over malnutrition among pregnant women, saying it leads to complications during childbirth and affects the cognitive development of their babies.

This comes as millions of Zimbabweans are at risk of malnutrition due to the El Nino-induced drought and poor economic environment that has left them unable to afford at least three balanced meals per day.

Family Health director in the ministry, Bernard Madzima, said good nutrition among pregnant women should be prioritised for the welfare of their babies.

“If a woman is pregnant and they do not have good nutrition, it affects the unborn child.

“Remember the first 1 000 days start when they are still in the uterus so what affects the mother also affects the unborn child,” Madzima told the Daily News in an interview yesterday.

“When we are talking about effects to the baby, we are not only talking about the physical well-being, but the cognitive issues surrounding the baby later on in life, so we always want to maintain good nutrition when a woman is pregnant.”

Studies have shown that maternal malnutrition can cause low birth weight and has an adverse effect on the development of the immune system of the new born.

In mothers it increases the risk of gestational anaemia, hypertension, miscarriages and foetal deaths during pregnancy, pre-term delivery and maternal mortality.

Meanwhile, Unicef has revealed that over 98 000 children are at risk of acute malnutrition in the country this year as hunger levels have continued deteriorating.

According to the children’s organisation, one in three children under five are suffering from malnutrition in the country.

At the same time 93 per cent of children between six months and two years of age are underfed.

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