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Vitamin Angels to Scale-Up Prenatal Multivitamin Distribution

Vitamin Angels, a nonprofit delivering lifesaving vitamins to mothers and children under five at risk of malnutrition worldwide, announced plans to increase their global distribution of multiple micronutrients (prenatal vitamins) for pregnant and lactating women on the heels of an important publication from the Cochrane Collaboration supporting the efficacy of prenatal vitamins.

While their long-standing prenatal vitamin distribution is based upon recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), and supported by anecdotal evidence from their own beneficiaries, the just published “Cochrane Review of Multi-Micronutrient Supplementation During Pregnancy” affirms, through a comprehensive review of all existing peer-reviewed research, the many benefits of prenatal supplementation for both mother and child.

“We believe every mom deserves to give birth to happy, vibrant babies, but some moms don't have that chance,” said Vitamin Angels’s founder and president, Howard Schiffer. “Prenatals are critical for the moms we serve to have safe and healthy pregnancies, and for their children to have healthy starts to life.”

Until now, a global standard in health care for women of reproductive age, but especially of pregnant women, has been supplementation with iron and folic acid (IFA), as it has been shown to significantly reduce the occurrence of low birth weight among newborns and maternal anemia and iron deficiency.  

The new evidence collected in recent years, collectively and strongly suggests that use of a daily prenatal vitamin (formulated as prescribed by WHO) reduces (even more than IFA alone) the occurrence of low birth weight babies, babies that are small for gestational age, and stillborn babies.

As a result, leading experts are beginning to suggest prenatal vitamins can be substituted for IFA supplementation in settings where micronutrient deficiencies are common.

“Combining multiple micronutrients has been suggested as a cost-effective way to achieve multiple benefits for women during pregnancy,” the report notes.

Vitamin Angels has focused primarily on distributing vitamin A and deworming treatments globally to at risk children under five in response to the tremendous evidence supporting the benefits of those interventions.

Their efforts to distribute prenatal vitamins to pregnant and breast feeding mothers in areas where malnutrition is prevalent have expanded in recent years, as a way to better address the entire critical window of opportunity in a child’s development from conception through age two.

In order to continue to successfully expand their prenatal program over the coming years, the organization will dedicate additional resources toward securing and distributing these supplements, and consequently, will increase fundraising efforts to meet that need.

Vitamin Angels’s unique distribution model recognizes that addressing the myriad needs of populations at risk for or suffering from malnutrition requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond supplementation.

The organization partners with nonprofits around the globe who are established in underserved communities and can efficiently add vitamins to their existing health and nutrition services.

To ensure a lasting benefit, Vitamin Angels provides technical assistance to its field partners to support introduction of its supplementation interventions and supporting materials to promote good maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding.

To learn more, read the report, or make a donation visit vitaminangels.org.

— Natalie Hernandez is the media and events coordinator for Vitamin Angels.

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