HCM CITY — Micronutrient deficiency among pregnant women in Viet Nam has reached alarming levels and should be addressed urgently, says Do Thi Ngoc Diep, director of the HCM City Nutrition Centre.
Anemia among pregnant women was most serious in the northwest and southern central regions at 56.7 per cent and 56.4 per cent respectively, Diep said at a symposium on maternal nutrition held on Sunday, citing 2009 statistics.
A survey conducted recently by the centre indicated 72.8 per cent of pregnant women in HCM City suffer from iodine deficiency, she said.
The survey, which covered 400 pregnant women, also showed 39.6 per cent were deficient in zinc.
Most of the surveyed women were not fully aware of the specific roles of the key nutrients in the development of the foetus and infants.
Diep said that the deficiency of iodine, iron, folic acid, vitamin A and zinc among pregnant women was a public health problem.
Maternal nutrition was integral to optimum brain development of the foetus and infants' cognitive development was related to maternal nutrintion, said Carol L Cheatham of Nutrition Research Institute, University of North Carolina.
"The best way to insure a healthy pregnancy and good outcomes for the infant is to start with a healthy, well-nourished mother.
"Education about nutrition is going to be the key to helping these women and their infants," she said. — VNS