News article

Importance of Calcium during the First 1000 Days of Life

Posted:  Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Burden and Proposed Solution for Calcium Deficiency in Young Children and Pregnant Women

Calcium deficiency is one of the leading causes of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. A review published in the journal Food and Nutrition Bulletin discussed the importance of calcium during the first 1000 days of life and implications of calcium deficiency in pregnant women and young children of Bangladesh.

Adequate calcium is important to meet the increasing physiological requirements of pregnant and lactating women and support growth in infants. The World Health Organization has recommended an additional intake of 1.5–2.0 g of elemental calcium/day from 20 weeks of gestation until delivery to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, particularly in women from regions of low calcium intake.

Mounting scientific evidence suggests insufficient calcium intake among young, urban Bangladeshi women. Calcium deficiency is associated with high incidence of preeclampsia, nutritional rickets, low birth weight, and other outcomes. Preeclampsia characterised by a fatal increase in blood pressure during pregnancy causes 20% of maternal deaths and 2.8% of total deaths among Bangladeshi women of reproductive age. Rickets is a crippling disease mainly affecting children. Calcium deficiency may lead to premature birth and low birth weight in infants. Calcium deficiency in women can also be caused by deficiency of vitamin D, which maintains calcium status by promoting intestinal calcium absorption, bone resorption, and by suppressing parathyroid hormone secretion. According to the results of a study, vitamin D deficiency was more common among lactating women.

Calcium supplementations may be an effective preventive measure against preeclampsia, premature birth, and other pregnancy-related disorders and death. Calcium-enriched nutrient powders and food-based interventions are cost-effective and practical in improving calcium status in children and in pregnant and lactating women. Additional research is required to address the benefits of various approaches in young children and women for the prevention of calcium deficiency.

News source - Bromage S, Ahmed T, Fawzi WW. Calcium Deficiency in Bangladesh: Burden and Proposed Solutions for the First 1000 Days. Food Nutr Bull. 2016. pii: 0379572116652748. [Epub ahead of print]