Poor nutrition in pregnancy responsible for low IQ of some Nigerians, say experts
*Seek more focus on primary healthcare to improve maternal, child survival
Medical experts have identified lack of appropriate and adequate nutrition during pregnancy as being responsible for the underdevelopment of the average human brain in Nigeria.
According to them, when pregnant women observe the right nutrition there would be avoidance and adequate care from hunger, toxic and flexible illness in the first two to five years of the child
They made this known at the Africa Future Discourse Series held in Lagos with experts drawn from diverse medical profession.Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Prof. Oladosu Ojengbede, said during pregnancy, there is need for exposure to adequate supply of essential nutrients, particularly micro-nutrient, which enables the body produce enzymes, hormones and others that make the body develop or function optimally
He said when a child is deprived of those micro nutrients during pregnancy stage, it is very difficult to make up the lost nutrition, which affects many organs in the body, such as the liver, kidney, bone, skin.“We should ensure that the women are exposed to adequate nutrition in pregnancy and the babies that are born also continue to have adequate follow up nutrition by exclusive breastfeeding in the fist six months of life,” he explained.
Ojengbede, who is also the Director, Centre for Population and Reproductive Health, University College Hospital, Ibadan stressed that the first 1000 days of life, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, is crucial, as it has shown that the rapid development of the brain takes place during pregnancy with the right and adequate nutrition.
He said about 37 percent of all babies are stunted and eight percent are wasted, which he described as “terrible things to happen to any child.”He said children who are underweight and malnourished suffer illnesses and diseases, as their immunity is low, with high acute respiratory infection such as diarrhoea, measles, and preventable communicable diseases due to the child’s inability to defend him/herself.
The Chief Executive Officer, First Foundation Hospital and Chairman, African Future, Dr. Tosin Ajayi, said the first 1000 days of conception is vital, as the micro nutrition and support provided to pregnant women ensures toxic illnesses are avoided in the first few years of life of the child.
He said when the pregnant women are cared for, they would have normal babies, while all the degenerative diseases will disappear, as the first 1000 days is when the foundation is laid in the brain
Former Minister of Works, Odeseye Ogunleye, said government should invest adequately in its pregnant women, noting that failure to do so will result to the birth of deficient babies.
“The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has done a lot of research on women and children and we should invest more in our pregnant women because the baby is the engine room for the future. Where we don’t invest in the women, the baby given birth to will be deficient,” he added.On primary healthcare as being key to improving maternal and child survival, the Former Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, lamented that though there seems to be an improvement in maternal and child health, the current situation in Nigeria is still poor based on available statistics.
He said any right thinking government should put primary healthcare as the corner stone of the health system, noting that where there is no good foundation, the building collapses.“Primary healthcare is the foundation for the health system. Once you address that you have solid foundation and you can build on whatever you have. There you start the concessionary maternal and child health services which is key, before, during and after pregnancy, and if you can address all these things the better for the future,” he added. While Ogunleye lamented that no much emphasis is given to primary healthcare in Nigeria, which he said is dangerous for the future of the country.