All of us need a balanced amount of nutrients for proper functioning of the body system. However, the nutrition requirement varies with respect to particular life stages. And pregnancy is such a critical phase in a woman’s life, when she needs optimal nutrients of superior qualities to support the developing fetus. Naturally, the urge to eat more is experienced by nearly all pregnant women. But, what if there is a lack of nutrients in the gestation period? What are the effects of malnutrition during pregnancy? Of course, it affects the health of both mother and baby, which we will discuss in this article.
Malnutrition and Pregnancy
Malnutrition is defined as the lack of sufficient nutrients, which are essential for the body’s normal functioning. Over time, it affects the bodily organs and results in mild to severe medical problems. One of the malnutrition facts is that the number of hungry people is more in the developing countries. Consequently, the occurrence rate of malnutrition during pregnancy is higher in the countries of Asia and Africa. As per medical data, pregnant women, lactating women and children below 3 years are more susceptible to malnutrition effects than others.
From the moment that a woman conceives, she holds the responsibility of following a healthy diet in large quantities to support the growth of an entire life inside her womb. An expecting mother should understand that her daily nutrition is not only important for her health, but it is crucial for maintaining good health of her baby for the entire life. Taking this into consideration, malnutrition during pregnancy is a leading cause for poor pregnancy consequences.
Effects of Malnutrition During Pregnancy
If a pregnant woman is malnourished, it is understandable that the baby in the mother’s womb is not receiving enough nutrients. In other words, the nutrients and trace minerals essential for developing a whole life are not provided in sufficient amounts. As a consequence, the baby will exhibit poor growth rate and low weight. The general effects of malnutrition on the body are weak immune system, greater risk to illnesses, low stamina level and lesser height.
Some effects of malnutrition during pregnancy are carried by the child throughout his/her entire life. Say for example, a malnourished baby is prone to infections not only in the early stages of growth, but also in the adulthood phases of life. Also, it is claimed that cognitive impairment and low IQs are directly linked to malnutrition symptoms, especially during pregnancy and infancy period.
Pregnant women who have been through malnutrition deliver babies with low birth weight. Such children are prone to retarded growth, less coordination, poor vision, learning difficulty and many other diseases. Anemia is one of the malnutrition diseases that affects several pregnant women worldwide. It increases the risk for mortality of mother and baby at childbirth. Other serious effects of malnutrition during pregnancy are premature delivery, obstructed labor, postpartum hemorrhage and birth defects.
The effects of malnutrition on child development are attributed to lack of nutrients during pregnancy and also, during lactating period. In both the stages, consuming well-planned pregnancy diet and diet for breastfeeding mother is crucial for the baby’s heath. The health and well-being of an individual largely depend on the nutrition provided in three stages, viz., gestation, lactation and early childhood.
In order to minimize the effects of malnutrition during pregnancy, a woman planning for conception should develop good eating habits and dietary changes. Staying fit before pregnancy is also imperative, because the developing fetus depends on the mother’s stored nutrients for fast growth during the initial months. Consulting a nutrition expert is a practical approach to understand the nutritional requirements for optimal health of both mother and baby.