295K

Women died from pregnancy-related causes in 2017

46%

Of all infant deaths occur in the first month of life

300K

Babies born with preventable spina bifida and ancephaly each year

The challenge

Too many women and newborns die from preventable causes that have affordable and proven solutions.

In 2017, approximately 295,000 women around the world died due to pregnancy-related causes.

In 2019, almost 2.4 million newborns died in their first 28 days of life. The global share of under-five deaths occurring during the neonatal period is increasing — 47% of all child deaths occur in the first month of life, up from 41% in 2000.

Women who live in low- and middle-income countries and who do not have the resources they need for a healthy pregnancy and birth are at particular risk.

Many of these women are ill-equipped to meet the special nutritional needs of pregnancy, due to:

  • Inadequate diets
  • Inadequate access to maternal nutrition services and information
  • Inadequate access to vital health services

To deliver cost-effective impact, nutrition interventions must be tailored to the needs and realities of women in their communities.

Born too small

15% of all babies worldwide are born with a low birthweight.

Low birthweight is a major predictor of poor child health and disability and increases the risk of non-communicable diseases later in life.

Neonatal health and nutrition care, including Kangaroo Mother Care, helps ensure that more infants survive and thrive.

Maternal nutrition matters

Adequate maternal nutrition during pregnancy has a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of both mother and child.

Improving nutrition during the first 1,000 days, from conception to a child’s second birthday, saves lives, helps children develop fully and contributes to greater economic prosperity.

Anaemia during pregnancy has been associated with maternal mortality and perinatal mortality. The World Health Organization estimates that 40% of all pregnant women worldwide were anaemic, which is preventable with iron and folic acid supplements

Insufficient blood levels of folate prior to conception and early in the first trimester leads to debilitating and sometimes deadly neural tube defects (NTDs), with an estimated 300,000 babies born each year with preventable spina bifida and anencephaly — the two most common types of NTDs.