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Nutrition & gender bias pose deadly risk for mothers and babies

Nutrition

More than half of all Indian women, including pregnant and nursing mothers, are anemic. In fact, 59% of pregnant women and 63% of nursing mothers suffer from anemia, increasing their risk of miscarriage, infant anemia, and low birth weight. Anemia is not the only health problem stemming from the poor health and nutrition of Indian mothers. A lack of iodine can lead to miscarriage or infant brain damage. The 2014 State of the World’s Mothers Report found that mother and infant mortality is highest during labor, birth, and the first week of life. Improper nutrition places women and their babies at risk of death during a time that should be a celebration of life.

Bias

For many women, this situation is compounded by societal pressures and gender bias. Health experts in Bhopal, India reported that most families will not volunteer to donate blood to a woman. Bhopal’s largest blood bank is also limited, because, for every 10 bags of blood donated, only three are for women. This means that during labor and delivery, women who are already anemic or who hemorrhage may not have any replacement for blood loss. Many women have trouble even getting access to treatment. A recent survey of over 30,000 married Indian women reported that 81% needed permission from their husbands just to go to a health care center.

Opportunity

Together with our partners, we are turning these forms of gender bias into opportunity. We are providing prenatal and postnatal vitamins, food, and supplements for women who are pregnant or nursing—and we’re giving this support in their own homes. Social workers check on the health and safety of pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as female infants. Providing these resources gives our partners the opportunity to educate women on health, nutrition, hygiene, and safety. And more importantly, it gives us the chance to educate women on the value of girls as infants, children, and adults. The social workers encourage mothers of female infants to keep and value their daughters.

Provide life to mothers and their babies

  • $33 can provide a baby with life-saving vitamins and supplements for 6 months.
  • $35 can pay a social worker for a whole week to educate, give emotional support, and provide health visits to mothers and children in need.
  • $56 can provide pregnant mothers with critical prenatal vitamins for 1 month.
  • $150 can provide a social worker with 1 month of salary so that they can continue supporting, monitoring, providing nutrition, and many other services.

Give these life-saving gifts here.

Sources: Times of India, WSJ India, Save The Children, UNICEF

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