Experts Stress Importance of Healthy Nutrition During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy

Some nutrition experts have stressed the importance of eating healthy meals, during and after pregnancy, to prevent under-nutrition in mothers and babies.

The experts made the assertion at a Media Workshop organised by Nestle Nigeria plc. in Agbara, Ogun.

The theme of the workshop is: “Good Nutrition, a Way of Life’’.

Dr Bartholomew Brai, the National President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, said, “under-nutrition during critical periods in development can lead to adverse health outcomes later in life.

“So, mothers should eat balanced and varied diet with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.

“They should maintain normal weight prior to pregnancy, and healthy weight gain during pregnancy should be encouraged.

“After pregnancy, all mothers should practice six months exclusive breastfeeding; no other solids or liquid foods should be given to the baby.

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“ Feeding on colostrum is a health benefit that comes from breast milk, because, it supplies the essential nutrients needed for baby’s cognitive development.

“Exclusive breastfeeding also protects against gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, slow infant weight gain and lower risk of obesity,’’ Brai said.

He said that breastfeeding was very relevant toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) three.

According to him, SDG three seeks to ensure health and wellbeing for all, and it addresses reproductive, maternal and child health, communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, as well as environmental diseases.

Brai said that appropriate complementary feeding was also a proven intervention to significantly reduce stunting during the first two years of life.

Also, Mr Chukwuma Muanya, the Deputy Editor, Guardian Newspaper, urged companies that were into nutrition products and services to support or partner with research firms to conduct surveys on nutrition.

According to him, research findings on nutrition issues attract high media interest and coverage, and should be publicised to members of the public.

On the challenges of reporting nutrition stories, Muanya said, “most nutrition studies and stories are sponsored by the industries or manufacturers.

“There is lack of specialised training in reporting science, nutrition and health, as well as poor funding for logistics, field visits and investigative stories.

“ Building the capacity of journalists to cover nutrition case studies, brand surveys and sensitisation of media editors on nutrition issues, is also a challenge,’’ he said.

In her remarks, Mrs Chioma Emma-Nwachukwu, Manager, the Nestle Nutrition Institute, Africa, Anglophone, Central West African Region, said that the workshop was aimed at raising the level of media coverage of nutrition and creating shared value.

According to her, one of the major nutritional challenges in West Africa is the high prevalence of micro nutrient deficiencies, especially among children and women.

She said that the major interest of the company was to make societal challenges and business needs to intersect.

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