Clinical study proves benefits of maternal nutritional supplements

A recent clinical study demonstrated that the use of maternal nutritional supplements (MNS) and a breastfeeding support programme improves birth outcomes and exclusive breastfeeding rate among Vietnamese mothers.

The symposium on the National Guideline on Nutrition for Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers on July 24, 2017 in Hanoi

The study on Vietnamese mothers demonstrated the effects of MNS in the pre- and post-natal period on exclusive breastfeeding rates, birth outcomes, and infant growth.

The study was conducted by the research team of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and global healthcare and research company Abbott between October 2013 and April 2015 and was approved by the National Institute of Nutrition and the Ministry of Health.

Moreover, the study has been published on The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine—the official journal of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine and other scientific communities.

This is the first study from Vietnam on maternal health nutrition to be published in such an authoritative platform. Participants included 228 Vietnamese mothers aged 20-35 at 26-29 weeks of gestation.

The findings showed that women who received the lactation support programme, including consuming two daily servings of maternal milk supplements from pregnancy through breastfeeding experienced various benefits, including healthier birth and growth outcomes and increased breast milk production.

The maternal milk supplement used in the study was Similac Mom, a science-based formula uniquely designed to help mothers meet increased nutritional needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The outcomes of the study have been referenced in the “National Guideline on Nutrition for Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers,” issued by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MoH) in March 2017.

The guideline, that aims to enhance the health of women of a reproductive age and the stature of Vietnamese people, is part of the project “Improving the nutrition status of pregnant women and lactating mothers” under the strategic partnership between MoH and Abbott, with the long-term goal of enhancing the health of Vietnamese mothers and babies.

Vietnam’s nutritional status has been improved in recent years and Vietnam is recognised internationally as one of the outstanding countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals related to maternal and child health.

However, Vietnam is still facing a double burden of nutrition. The prevalence of suboptimal maternal nutritional status remains high due to the low-nutrient density of the diets coupled with raised nutrient requirements during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

According to a NIN report in 2015, the rate of zinc deficiency among pregnant women was 80.3 per cent, and that of anaemia was 32.8 per cent. On the other hand, another NIN research in the same year reported that 14.1 per cent of children below five years of age were underweight, and 24.5 per cent were stunted.

Meanwhile, previous research has highlighted the importance of appropriate nutrition during the first 1,000 days for both short-term and long-term health benefits of the offspring.

Maternal nutrition during the pre- and post-natal periods represents a continuation of nutrition provision for the breastfeeding child during this critical 1,000-day window.

Good maternal nutrition prepares the mother to meet the high-nutritional demands of breastfeeding.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), nutrition interventions are among the best development investments countries can undertake.

By Mai Thuy



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