POSHAN’s Abstract Digest on Maternal and Child Nutrition Research – Issue 6

Aaganwadi centre (Photographer Aishwarya Pillai)
Aaganwadi centre (Photographer Aishwarya Pillai)

As we wrap up 2013, we are pleased to release the sixth issue of our bi-monthly Abstract Digest on maternal and child nutrition, the last issue for this year. This issue features interesting publications examining nutrition from both a biological and political lens, in India and beyond.

An India-based study in The Lancet highlights regional differences in neonatal and under-five mortality; the study highlights how several districts are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 as early as 2015, while several others may not achieve it until 2023.

A BioMed Central Public Health study examines whether high parity is associated with lower coverage of key health interventions that might lead to increased mortality. The study identifies a significant relationship between coverage of maternal and child health services and birth order, offering a potential explanation for the association between higher parity and child mortality.

Using birth cohorts from 5 countries, a study from the Journal of Pediatrics examines the relationship between maternal height and child growth, concluding the strongest associations with conditional heights for adulthood and 2 years of age. The study confirms that maternal height influences linear growth of children over the growing period.

Of two studies focusing on the political context of maternal health in India, one, featured in Science Direct, uses evidence from two South Indian states to identify three key factors that shape health policy and its implementation: consistent political priorities, policy entrepreneurship, and strong public health system administration.

Thank you for your interest in the POSHAN Abstract Digest. Please feel free to share this digest with others, and engage in discussions with us on our Facebook page! We wish you and your families a very happy new year and we look forward to sharing highlights of maternal and child nutrition publications in 2014.

Click here to download the latest issue:

POSHAN Abstract Digest Issue#6DEC2013

For earlier issues, please visit our blog.


Women’s Empowerment and Child Nutrition

Source: Flickr -IFPRI, Bangladesh
Source: Flickr -IFPRI, Bangladesh

In Asia, the low status of women is one of the main factors contributing to the poor nutritional status of children. In Bangladesh, despite economic growth, it is observed that there has been a modest reduction in the poverty rate headcount of about 1.5 percent a year since the early 1990s. Nonetheless, the child malnutrition rate remains among the highest in the world.

A new discussion paper What dimensions of women’s empowerment matter most for child nutrition? Examines the role played by women’s empowerment and endowments, such as maternal schooling and maternal height, in relation to childhood malnutrition in Bangladesh.

It concludes that the status of women in the home plays a crucial role in how women are able to care for children. For example, a woman living in a high-income household may be able to afford good-quality food and medicine for her children, but may not be able to take part in decision making about household expenditures or doctor visits. Many studies have shown that improving women’s empowerment can lead to an improvement in children’s growth rates and diets.

‘The results of the study indicate that domestic violence, maternal education, and height, and the women’s age when she marries significantly impact child stunting, especially chronic malnutrition,” said Purnima Menon,  senior researcher, IFPRI.

The study suggests that the policymakers should seek an increase in individual and community interventions that can reduce the prevalence of violence and empower women to achieve better health and well-being outcomes.  Agnes R. Quisumbing, senior researcher, IFPRI argues that “additional research is needed to explore the ways in which investments to improve the nutritional and educational status of girls before they become mothers can be strengthened and sustained”.

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