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  Business   Government urged to invest in maternal nutrition: Economic Survey

Government urged to invest in maternal nutrition: Economic Survey

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Feb 27, 2016, 7:16 am IST
Updated : Feb 27, 2016, 7:16 am IST

Stressing that low-cost maternal and early life health and nutrition programmes offer very high returns on investments, the Economic Survey urged the government to invest in maternal nutrition.

Stressing that low-cost maternal and early life health and nutrition programmes offer very high returns on investments, the Economic Survey urged the government to invest in maternal nutrition.

The survey pointed out that early life conditions affect cognitive development in the unborn child. “A healthy mother is more likely to give birth to a healthy baby. Further, returns on human capital investments vary with the age of the child, being highest for programmes that target young children and in-utero health. Investments in maternal nutrition and sanitation and enhancing their effectiveness by changing social norms can help India exploit its demographic dividend,” the survey said. It said that programmes targeting younger children are also relatively cheaper investments. “Early-life investments are thus a real opportunity for fiscal and capacity constrained governments.”

The survey identified neo-natal mortality as an important indicator of in-utero nutrition. “Out of all infant deaths in India, 70 per cent are in the first month. A leading cause is low birth weight. Underweight women at the beginning of their pregnancy are far more likely to have low birth weight babies,” the survey added. As many as 42.2 per cent Indian women are underweight at the beginning of pregnancy in contrast to 35 per cent non-pregnant women of child-bearing age who are underweight.

It thus highlighted that pregnant women are more likely to be underweight. The survey also said that another reason for poor maternal health was “social norms” that accord low status to young women in the household. “This results in stark nutritional differential within households.”

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi