Integrating nutrition interventions into an existing maternal, neonatal, and child health program increased maternal dietary diversity, micronutrient intake, and exclusive breastfeeding practices in Bangladesh: results of a cluster-randomized program evaluation

October 11, 2017

Alive & Thrive (A&T) evaluated the effect of providing nutrition-focused MNCH compared with standard MNCH (antenatal care with standard nutrition counseling) on coverage of nutrition interventions, maternal dietary diversity, micronutrient supplement intake, and early breastfeeding practices. Improvements were significantly greater in the nutrition-focused MNCH group than in the standard MNCH group. Addressing nutrition during pregnancy by delivering interpersonal counseling and community mobilization, providing free supplements, and ensuring weight-gain monitoring through an existing MNCH program improved maternal dietary diversity, micronutrient supplement consumption, and EBF practices. This innovative study showed that the integration of nutrition interventions into ANC is effective when implemented well, particularly when facilitated by a solid and functional system for early pregnancy detection and ANC service delivery. The effects of the nutrition-focused MNCH program were likely due to a well-designed and locally relevant package of maternal nutrition interventions, high quality of service delivery, and high service coverage of the base MNCH program.