Prenatal origins of undernutrition

  • Christian P
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Undernutrition continues to be high in many regions of the developing
world. Birthweight, a common proxy measure of intrauterine growth, is
influenced by nutritional, environmental and lifestyle factors during
pregnancy and, in turn, affects immediate survival and function, and is
a determinant of later life risk of chronic diseases. Maternal
pre-pregnancy weight and height are independently associated with
birthweight and also modify the of pregnancy weight gain and
interventions during pregnancy on birthweight and perinatal mortality.
Other prenatal factors commonly known to impact birthweight include
maternal age, parity, sex, and birth interval, whereas lifestyle factors
such as physical activity and maternal stress, as well as environmental
toxicants have variable influences. Tobacco and other substance use and
infections, specifically ascending reproductive tract infections,
malaria, and HIV, can cause intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Few
studies have examined the contribution of prenatal factors including low
birthweight to childhood wasting and stunting. Studies that have
examined this, with adequate adjustment for confounders, have generally
found odds ratios associated with low birthweight ranging between 2 and
5. Even fewer studies have is needed to determine the proportion of
childhood under-nutrition risk factors. More research is needed to
determine the proportion of childhood under-nutrition attributable to
IUGR so that interventions can be targeted to the appropriate life
stages. Copyright (C) 2009 Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG, Basel

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  • Parul Christian

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