Good nutrition starts in the womb.
That is why the Valenzuela City Health Office (CHO) has launched an information campaign on good nutrition aimed at pregnant mothers and mothers of newborn infants.
Launched on July 31 during a Nutrition Month program at the city hall, the information campaign First 1,000 Days promotes intake of micronutrients and exclusive breastfeeding during the infant’s first 1,000 days, which consists of the nine months in the womb and the first two years since birth.
The campaign also supports the Millennium Development Goal 4 which aims to reduce child mortality. In the Philippines, the reduction in child mortality is measured in terms of the following indicators: (1) under-five mortality rate, (2) infant mortality rate, and (3) proportion of 1-year old immunized against measles.
CHO nutritionists say that if a mother fails to receive the right nutrients during pregnancy and the baby becomes undernourished during the first two years, the baby may later contract health problems which adverse effects may last for life.
Between the baby’s birth and six months, a woman should do exclusive breastfeeding, or feed her baby nothing but breastmilk and, if any, the medicines prescribed by the doctor.
“Breastmilk contains all the nutrients a baby needs to grow healthy, not to mention it’s free,” said Elizabeth Provido, CHO nutritionist.
Provido added that mothers who breastfeed exclusively are less prone to diseases like breast and cervical cancers.
To stimulate the breasts to produce more milk, Provido advises mother to persistently breastfeed, especially at night.
City Nutrition Office OIC Dr. Bernadette Bordador said a child who is undernourished during her first two years is likely to have a low intelligent quotient score. “If the baby has low weight at birth, she may lose five IQ points,” she said.
“If she is low on iodine during her first two years, she might lose 10-15 IQ points; if low on iron, 25 IQ points,” Dr. Bordador added.
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) recommends 90 micrograms of iodine daily for the newborn and those aged three years and below. For iron, the agency prescribes 0.38 mg daily for the newborn and those below six months; 10 mg for six months and less than one year; and 8 mg for ages one to three.
To help families provide their children under the age of five with good nutrition, the city government runs the Barangay-Based Feeding Program (BBFP). More than 3,500 underweight children from the ages six months through five years enrolled in the program are supplied every two weeks with dry ready-to-cook food. The program would last for three years.
The BBFP is the one of the three feeding programs in the city today. The Supplementary Feeding Program caters to all day care children, while the K-to-6 Citywide Feeding Program serves underweight students in kindergarten through grade six.