Use of dairy in the treatment of malnutrition in pregnancy in Malawi

Ten to 35 percent of the women of child bearing age in developing countries are classified with moderate to severe malnutrition. Causes of maternal malnutrition in low income settings include food insecurity and poor diet quality combined with increased nutrient requirements during pregnancy. A large study is currently under consideration for funding that would measure the effectiveness of the standard of care for treatment of moderate malnutrition during pregnancy in Malawi against 2 other interventions, one of which contains nonfat dry milk (NFDM). This ARI proposal seeks to measure the impact of the intervention (including NFDM) compared with the control, specifically for: blood vitamin and mineral status and change; energy expenditure and body composition; and change in mental function as measured by memory and problem solving tests. In the long term, if the new product which includes NFDM is found to be superior to the standard of care in recovery from moderate malnutrition during pregnancy and with improved maternal nutritional status and in ability to do work, then the use of this product has the potential to reduce the global burden of low birth weight and stunting in infants and children in the developing world by at least 25% and to improve maternal quality of life. The dairy industry is central to the agricultural industries in California and agriculture is central to the health of the Californian economy. If the use of NFDM were to be incorporated into the international standard of care for treatment of malnourished pregnant women in developing countries, that would have a real impact on the demand and use of California nonfat dry milk solids in food aid, thereby benefiting California dairy and agricultural sectors.