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National Institute of Health and Care Excellence publishes a quality standard on maternal and child nutrition

Posted:  Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Yet another initiative to battle poor maternal and child health! The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has articulated a quality standard to ensure optimal maternal and child nutrition and consequently deter diseases and disorders associated with poor nutrition.

A healthy, balanced diet is essential for women of childbearing age as it influences her health as well as forms the foundation for the offspring’s health, growth and development. The quality of diet provided during early childhood affects growth and development and is associated with deficiencies and the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

The quality standard focuses on women before, during, and up to a year after childbirth, infants, and pre-school aged children. It also covers low-income and other disadvantaged households to reduce poor outcomes such as postnatal depression, childhood illnesses and infections. The standard includes:

• Advice to pregnant women on healthy eating during their antenatal and health visitor appointments.

• A structured weight loss programme for women with a body mass index >30 after childbirth.

• Pregnant women, parents and carers of children younger than 4 years who are eligible for the healthy start scheme should be given information and support to apply

• Breastfeeding support should be provided through an evaluated, structured programme.

Professor Gill Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE said, “Women who may become pregnant need to be aware of the importance of a healthy diet as there’s most benefit from good nutrition before conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. There’s a strong link between poor maternal and child nutrition and deprivation, so improving the nutritional status of mothers and pre-school children who are disadvantaged is vital.” However, Janet Fyle, Professional Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, recommends a much wider view on this.

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