A Nutritionist, Patience Chima, has said lack of adequate nutrients during pregnancy was responsible for most foetal malformation and deformation in babies.
Chima of the Dietetics Department, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, advised pregnant women to ensure that they have enough nutrients in store to aid the formation of their foetus.
She gave the advice at the 6th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference organised by the Nigerian Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NISPGHAN) in Lagos.
The reports that theme of the conference is entitled: “The Role of Specialised Paediatric Gastroenterological Care in Improving Child Health.’’
Chima said: “Preconception status is the nutritional status of the mother before conception and in our society, lots of mothers do not plan for pregnancy.
“Before a woman realises, she is pregnant and one month gone.
A mother must have enough nutrients to help in the formation of her unborn baby.
If certain nutrients are lacking while the baby is forming, the foetus will be at risk to birth defects and learning disabilities.
So, it is what the mother has in stock that her baby takes for the first time,’’ Chima said.
She said if the nutrients that would aid the organs to properly form were missing, the foetus would be malformed and the organs deformed.
Chima expressed grief over the attitude of some pregnant women when it comes to taking micronutrient supplements before, during and after pregnancy.
She said a common one like folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord, were being ignored by some pregnant women.
Chima said: ““Sometimes when you see children with cleft palate and neural tube, it is basically caused by lack of folic acid, and then, low iron causes brain deformation.’’
She said that some of these conditions could be reversible, urging mothers to always assess the risks and benefits of a medicine in pregnancy.
Chima, therefore, advised mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies, saying “ breast milk is non-negotiable’’.