Underscoring the importance of pre-conception nutrition, a city-based institute has developed a kit to address the pre-pregnancy nutritional needs of women.
The kit with a ready-reckoner chart tries to inform the newly-wed couples and their family members on ways to ensure nutrition, personal hygiene and immunisation of woman before conception, during pregnancy and two years after the child birth, Director of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), R Hemalatha said.
The kit would be launched in the next two months, she said adding it would be brought out in different languages and distributed through marriage registries and model rural health facilities.
According to Hemalatha, preconception risks like under nutrition, anaemia, malnutrition, low Body Mass Index, overweight, smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of adequate physical activity and sanitation as well as hygiene are to be addressed irrespective of pregnancy planning, which is essential to improve outcomes.
"The kit developed by NIN precisely tries to address this need," she told PTI in an interview.
"This in a way takes life-course approach of highlighting what needs to be done during critical periods and sensitive periods for cumulative effects on child health (future generations).
It recognises that preconception interventions often require engagement from individuals and their families who are not thinking about becoming pregnant in the near future, and are unlikely to be using maternal health services," she said.
Citing a study, the Director said it showed that there were strong links between health before pregnancy and maternal and child health outcomes and also suggested that the consequences of adequate or inadequate nutrition can extend across generations.
In India, like in many developing countries, where nutrition transition is underway, both poor nutrition and overweight are rife among women of reproductive age, she noted.
"Typically, our diets are far short of the nutritional recommendations.
This trend among women and adolescent girls is more worrisome as their nutritional status is directly associated with health outcomes of our future generations," she said.
"1,000 days nutrition is very important. Globally it is recognised as an important window of opportunity for any appropriate intervention which will correct nutrition status of the new born.
But, in Indian 50 per cent of women are anemic and around 20-25 per cent women are undernourished. So, if they enter pregnancy and if we address only from conception to 2-years of life, then we are actually missing a lot," Hemalatha said.
Explaning the benefits of nutrition during pre-conception period, she said several studies show that micronutrient supplementation and food supplementation during pregnancy can only correct maternal nutrient deficiencies, but effects are not adequately passed on to the child's health outcomes.
Other interventions to improve diet during pregnancy also have little effects on newborn health outcomes.
Therefore, the critical window for intervention with nutrition is before pregnancy.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)