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Why pregnant women need micronutrient supplement: Expert

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A public health consultant, Francis Ohanyido, says there is a need for pregnant women to access and use Multiple Micronutrient Supplements (MMS) because of the dire consequences on the mother and child.

“Multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS), commonly referred to as prenatal multivitamins, are one of the most impactful nutrition interventions that significantly improve maternal health and birth outcomes.

“MMMS contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals for pregnant and nursing women and meets micronutrient requirements that poor diets cannot meet,” he said.

Mr Ohanyido, country director of Vitamin Angels, Nigeria, made the assertion at a two-day media engagement and capacity-building workshop on MMS in pregnancy in Lagos.

According to the World Health Organization, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals the body needs in very small amounts.

However, their impact on a body’s health are critical, and deficiency in any of them can cause severe and even life-threatening conditions.

They include iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and iodine, among others.

According to Mr Ohanyido, in Nigeria, the most common micronutrient deficiencies include iron, folate, iodine, vitamin A, and zinc.

“Pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Nigeria, are at increased risk of being deficient in multiple, critically important, micronutrients.

“Micronutrient deficiencies can have lifelong impacts on a child’s physical, mental, and emotional development,” he said.

Mr Ohanyido emphasised the importance of giving supplements to vulnerable groups, stating that failure to do so makes children vulnerable to measles.

“Because a mother is carrying a foetus, the demand on her body’s nutrients increases, which needs proper supplements to help the immune system response.”

According to Mr Ohanyido, MMS is a part of an inclusive strategy by the federal government to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in Nigeria.

On ways to address the situation, he said it was important for the federal government to prioritise the national guidelines for the prevention and control of micronutrient deficiency diseases in the country.

According to him, improving knowledge and awareness of micronutrient deficiency control and effective implementation are important areas of public-private sector collaboration.

He called for collaboration among NGOs and public-private actors to boost access and integration of nutrition within health systems.

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