Pregnant women in Mindanao tend to be malnourished

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Pregnant women in Northern Mindanao tend to be malnourished than the rest of the population and are at risk to be energy-deficient although their number has decreased.

In a report released during the culmination of the Nutrition Month celebration observed each July, National Nutrition Council (NNC) 10 coordinator Marissa M. Navales reported that 25.1 percent of pregnant women in the region remain to be nutritionally at risk, although this is lower than the 27.2 percent figure in 2011.

Chronic energy deficient lactating women also decreased from 10.8 percent five years ago to only 3.8 percent for this year.

But the number of overweight women jumped from 22.2 percent to 32.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of low birth weight infants decreased from 13.5 percent in 2011 to only 6.2 percent in 2016.

NNC 10 also released data for the first time on how many women reported their lactation habits. Among those surveyed, 82.9 percent reported breastfeeding their newborns in one hour after birth, 4.1 percent practiced exclusively breastfeeding while 33.1 percent breastfed their children up to two years in age.

“Forms of undernutrition – underweight, wasting and stunting – continue to be a challenge,” Navales said.

“All these are considered a problem of malnutrition, which continues to be a public-health problem in the country, despite continuous efforts by the government and its partners to address it.”

It was in this regard that NNC disseminated nationwide The First 1000 Days, a guideline for mothers on how to feed their babies, she said.

Under the guideline, Navales said, both baby and mother were supposed to exclusive-breastfeed within the first hour of birth.

Mothers should also be provided with counseling to build their confidence and help them on issues related to breastfeeding such as inadequate milk supply, the guideline stated.

The agency also exhorted both government agencies and privately-owned firms to provide paid breastfeeding breaks and have lactation stations to enable mothers to continue breastfeeding even while working.

Navales said that a good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child prepares him or her for a better quality of life in adulthood.

“Actions to prevent undernutrition and overnutrition and delay the onset of noncommunicable diseases should focus on the first 1,000 days of life,” she said. PNA/