Fifteen years of MINIMat study finds ways to reduce infant mortality and assesses the effect on cognitive development in infancy, child growth and metabolic risk indicators in pre-school age

Dhaka, August 10, 2017 - In a fifteen years of randomised factorial cohort study titled MINIMat (Maternal and Infant Nutrition Interventions in Matlab Bangladesh), icddr,b scientists and their partners have found possible ways to break a vicious circle of malnutrition across generations. In the study, infants of mothers who received food and multiple micronutrient supplements from early pregnancy, had a risk of infant death which was reduced by more than 60% in comparison with those who had the standard program, which is a late food supplements and iron-folic acid capsules. Additionally, the nutrition interventions during pregnancy found to be influencing the height growth of children, cognitive function, social conditions as well as chronic disease risk indicators (metabolic markers) at around five years.

Maternal and child undernutrition is estimated to be the underlying cause of 3.5 million annual deaths globally and almost half of the total disease burden in under-five children. Nutritional imbalance in foetal or early life is associated with short- and long-term health consequences and chronic disease risk in adulthood.

The MINIMat study commenced in 2001 and recruited 4,436 women who were given food supplements and micronutrients from early pregnancy. This group of women and their children have been followed overtime and also initiatives have been taken to follow the children up to 15-years of age. icddr,b has collaborated with a large group of international scientists in this effort.

The study has also included analyses of health consequences of early life exposure to environmental toxicants, such as arsenic and cadmium via drinking water and food. It has also addressed child growth, cognitive function, and social conditions and health.

Today, findings of the study have been discussed in a seminar titled “Fifteen Years of MINIMat (Maternal and Infant Nutrition Intervention in Matlab) Study: Implications on Child Survival, Growth, Development and Chronic Disease Markers”. Professors from Uppsala University, Sweden, Mr Lars Åke Persson and Ms Eva-Charlotte Ekström presented on the effects of MINIMat intervention on child survival, and child growth & chronic disease markers respectively. Dr Jena Hamadani, icddr,b presented on child development while Dr Ruchira Naved, icddr,b spoke on stress and association between violence against women and exclusive breastfeeding, child health and nutrition. Also, Dr Rubhana Raqib from icddr,b addressed the immune function and environmental exposure.

Commenting on the study findings, Dr Shams El Arifeen, Senior Director, Maternal and Child Health Division, icddr,b said, “This conversation needs to continue as to what these means for other programmes around supplementing multiple micronutrients”.

Ms Sheema Sen Gupta, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh stressed on the collaborative approach and said, “Research findings of this kind must make their way to the national programme”

Ms Marcela Lizana First Secretary Health, Embassy of Sweden attended the event. Mr Syed Monjurul Islam, Deputy Executive Director, icddr,b chaired the concluding session.

Participants from partner organisations and other NGOs working in maternal and neonatal health and nutrition attended the seminar.

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