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Maternal and childhood malnutrition

We study the biological and non-biological mechanisms underpinning maternal and childhood malnutrition, develop innovative interventions to prevent and treat these conditions, and evaluate the efficacy, feasibility and scalability of new interventions.

Programme lead

Dr Tahmeed Ahmed

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Our approach

Our studies span the full spectrum of research from basic laboratory studies to evaluations of implementation of treatment and prevention programmes and support for policy development. Given the diverse nature and causes of maternal and childhood malnutrition, there is no single solution suitable for every situation. Moreover, for achieving adequate coverage of preventive and treatment programmes, it is essential that quality research informs policy at the national level.


We aim to develop a better understanding of the origins and implications of malnutrition. Malnutrition is not simply about insufficient calorie intake, but part of a bigger picture that includes gut health and its microbial communities, the impact of infections, and prenatal development (and hence maternal health). Many biological and social factors therefore need to be considered in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of malnutrition.


Malnutrition remains a major public health issue in Bangladesh and other south Asian countries. We have developed ready-to-use supplementary and therapeutic foods (RUSF and RUTFs) based on locally available ingredients (such as rice, lentils and chickpeas). We have been evaluating their acceptability to children and efficacy, and examining their impact in field trials.

In clinical trials we are also evaluating other possible treatments to prevent childhood stunting and to address maternal malnutrition.


We are working with the Government of Bangladesh to evaluate pilot schemes implementing treatments for moderate and severe childhood malnutrition. We are also analysing barriers to the effective implementation of maternal nutrition programmes. We have also provide important input into national nutrition policy – programme lead Dr Tahmeed Ahmed was chair of the drafting committee.