National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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NICE issues standard on improving maternal and child nutrition

A quality standard to help improve maternal and child nutrition was published yesterday by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

A healthy diet is important for women who may become pregnant, as the woman's nutrition influences how her baby grows and develops and lays the foundations for her child's health.  The mother's own health also depends on how well-nourished she is before, during and after pregnancy.

During the early years of a child's life, their diet has an effect on their growth and development. Diet is linked to many common childhood conditions such as iron-deficiency anaemia, tooth decay and vitamin D deficiency. It can also affect the risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity in adult life.

The new standard aims to support improved nutrition for women who may become pregnant before, during and after pregnancy (up to a year after birth), and for babies and pre-school children.  With a focus on low-income and other disadvantaged households, the standard is expected to contribute to improving outcomes in areas including postnatal depression, childhood illnesses and infections and iron-deficiency anaemia.

Professor Gill Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE, said: “Good nutrition before, during and after pregnancy benefits the growth and development of the baby and the health of the mother. Women who may become pregnant need to be aware of the importance of a healthy diet as there’s most benefit from good nutrition before conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  There’s a strong link between poor maternal and child nutrition and deprivation, so improving the nutritional status of mothers and pre-school children who are disadvantaged is vital.

"The quality statements set out the priority actions to enable better nutrition for women who become pregnant and their children – such as  advice on eating healthily during pregnancy, and support for breastfeeding.  Making sure that these priority steps are put into practice will help to improve the health of mothers-to-be and give their babies the best start in life.”

The quality statements include:

  • Pregnant women attending antenatal and health visitor appointments are advised how to eat healthily in pregnancy
  • Women with a BMI of 30 or more following childbirth are offered a structured weight-loss programme
  • Pregnant women and parents and carers of children under 4 years who may be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme are given information and support to apply
  • Women receive breastfeeding support from a service that uses an evaluated, structured programme.

NICE has also issued a separate quality standard to help improve the care of people with drug allergies and ensure they are spared from serious harm. The quality standard includes 6 statements with priorities for healthcare professionals on how best to document allergies and how this information should be shared across NHS services as well as with patients themselves.

For more information call the NICE press office on 0300 323 0142, or out of hours on 07775 583 813.

Notes to Editors

About the NICE quality standard

  1. The standard, ‘Nutrition: Improving maternal and child nutrition’ is available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs98.
  2. The standard, ‘Drug allergy: diagnosis and management’ is available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs97.

About NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for driving improvement and excellence in the health and social care system. We develop guidance, standards and information on high-quality health and social care. We also advise on ways to promote healthy living and prevent ill health.

Our aim is to help practitioners deliver the best possible care and give people the most effective treatments, which are based on the most up-to-date evidence and provide value for money, in order to reduce inequalities and variation.

Our products and resources are produced for the NHS, local authorities, care providers, charities, and anyone who has a responsibility for commissioning or providing healthcare, public health or social care services.

To find out more about what we do, visit our website: www.nice.org.uk and follow us on Twitter: @NICEComms.

 

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