The Washington Post
Acute malnutrition in pregnant women shot up in 12 nations hit by rising food prices, U.N. says
Acute malnutrition among pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers has increased by 25 percent in the past two years in 12 countries hard hit by rising food prices fueled by the fighting in Ukraine, according to a United Nations report.
Surveys in 10 countries in Africa and two in the Middle East that are worst affected by the food crisis were used in a UNICEF report, released last Tuesday, a day before International Women’s Day.
Poor nutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women can lead to weak immunity and complications during pregnancy and birth. Some countries in sub-saharan Africa have in previous studies recorded high infant mortality rates because of various complications.
Globally, 51 million children under 2 are too short for their age because of malnutrition, a condition called stunting, and half of these become stunted during pregnancy or within their first six months of life, the report says.
The affected girls and women have increased from 5.5 million in 2020 to 6.9 million in 2022 in Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, according to the report.
UNICEF recommends increased nutrition assistance and supplying fortifications to highly consumed basic foods such as flour, cooking oil and salt to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.
Ensuring that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have access to nutrition services and supplements has also been recommended in the report.
Some of the countries in subSaharan Africa have high rates of teenage pregnancies and low attendance at prenatal clinics.
Women in poor households are twice as likely to be underweight as those from the wealthiest households, according to the UNICEF report.