The number of pregnant women suffering from acute malnutrition is increasing

The finding is alarming

The number of pregnant women suffering from acute malnutrition is increasing

The finding is alarming. The number of acutely malnourished expectant and nursing mothers has increased by 25% since 2020 in 12 countries at the 'epicenter' of the global food crisis, with dire consequences for children, according to UNICEF .

The report, based on analysis of data on underweight and anemia in nearly every country, estimates that more than one billion women and adolescent girls worldwide are undernourished – leading to underweight and short stature – essential micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia. Most of them in the poorest regions.

Thus, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa concentrate 68% of women and adolescent girls who are underweight and 60% of those suffering from anemia.

These nutritional deficiencies have an impact on the well-being of these women, but also affect their children, underlines Unicef, noting that "poor nutrition is transmitted from generation to generation".

Malnutrition increases the risk of neonatal death but also harms "fetal development, with lasting effects on children's nutrition, growth and learning, and their future ability to support themselves."

“Globally, 51 million children under the age of 2 are stunted. We estimate that in almost half of cases, this occurs during pregnancy and the first six months of life, when a child's nutrition is entirely dependent on its mother", underlines the report, which pays particular attention to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

It thus estimates that between 2020 and 2022, the number of pregnant or breastfeeding women suffering from acute malnutrition increased by 25%, from 5.5 to 6.9 million, in 12 countries in food crisis (Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad and Yemen).

"Unless the international community acts urgently, this crisis could have lasting consequences for future generations," UNICEF chief executive Catherine Russell said in a statement. “To prevent undernutrition among children, we must also address malnutrition among adolescent girls and women. »

UNICEF calls for giving priority to women and girls in terms of access to nutritious food, to put in place binding measures to "extend on a large scale the fortification of common foods" such as flour, cooking oil or salt, or to eliminate certain discriminatory practices leading to the inequitable distribution of food in households.