Action - Nutrition International - India - Maternal Newborn Health and Nutrition (MNHN) Program - Care of LBW infants - Newborns (up to 28 days of age)

Programme: Nutrition International - India - Maternal Newborn Health and Nutrition (MNHN) Program

Programme description

Pregnancy and the postnatal period are critical times for ensuring the health and wellbeing of women and their children. Anaemia during pregnancy is common and can have serious consequences for both mother and child, including increased risk of low birthweight and preterm birth, as well as maternal and perinatal mortality.[1&2] Iron deficiency is a major cause of anaemia among pregnant women.[3] Iron requirements increase substantially during pregnancy and it is difficult to meet these needs with food alone. Based on evidence of reduced risk of anaemia, iron deficiency and other adverse outcomes including having a low birthweight baby, WHO recommends daily iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation throughout pregnancy.[4] This is in addition to a series of other recommendations for nutrition interventions as part of antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience and other important maternal and child outcomes.[4] 

Optimal care and feeding of newborns helps ensure babies survive and sets the stage for healthy growth and development. For example, initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life, as recommended by WHO[5&6], increases the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding and reduces the chance of newborn illness or death [7]. The newborn period, which is the first 28 days of life, is the most vulnerable time in a child’s life, and accounts for almost half (46%) of the total deaths in children under five years of age [8]. Fortunately, many of these deaths are preventable through evidence-informed, low-cost care, such as supporting mothers to start breastfeeding soon after birth, which can be delivered even in resource-limited settings.

Nutrition International works in collaboration with government and other partners to improve maternal and newborn health and nutrition (MNHN) through enhancing the provision, quality and integration of health and nutrition services and empowering women and their families to seek care and adopt healthy behaviours.   

Nutrition International contributes to improving MNHN in India by:

  • Collaborating with state government in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh to improve maternal and newborn care services, including the package of care under the India Newborn Action Plan (with emphasis on neonatal resuscitation, optimal timing of cord clamping, timely initiation of breastfeeding, prevention of hypothermia, vitamin K, and kangaroo mother care), as well as maternal antenatal care (including IFA and calcium supplementation and nutrition counselling, completion of full ANC, identification and follow-up of high risk pregnancy, promotion of institutional  delivery) and postnatal care for mother and baby.
  • Promoting an enabling environment through advocacy with key decision-makers for commitment to MNHN.
  • Providing technical assistance.
  • Supporting facility assessments and planning for improving the capacity of facilities to provide care for pregnant women and newborns.
  • Capacity-building of health care managers and service providers at facility and community levels, through training and mentoring/supportive supervision.
  • Developing and implementing a behavior change communication strategy.
  • Supporting program monitoring and assessment, and use of this information to inform decision-making.

This work is in partnership with state government in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. This project supports implementation in three districts in Gujarat (Vadodara, Panchmahal and Dahod) and two districts in Uttar Pradesh (Gorakhpur and Basti). NI has supported MNHN programming in India since 2015 and support is ongoing.

Although this section describes MNHN, wherever possible, Nutrition International’s work in India follows a comprehensive and integrated approach, with a strong focus on the first 1000 days, from pregnancy through 2 years of age.

Programme type



  1. Allen, L. H. (2000). Anemia and iron deficiency: Effects on pregnancy outcome. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,71(5). doi:10.1093/ajcn/71.5.1280s
  2. Black, R. E., Victora, C. G., Walker, S. P., Bhutta, Z. A., Christian, P., Onis, M. D., . . . Uauy, R. (2013). Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet,382(9890), 427-451. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(13)60937-x
  3. WHO. The global prevalence of anaemia in 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015. 
  4. WHO. (2016). WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. (Rep.). doi:
  5.  WHO. (2017). Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in facilities providing maternity and newborn services: Guideline(Rep.). doi:
  6. WHO. (2018). WHO recommendations: Intrapartum care for a positive childbirth experience(Rep.). doi:
  7. NEOVITA Study Group. (2016). Timing of initiation, patterns of breastfeeding, and infant survival: Prospective analysis of pooled data from three randomised trials. The Lancet Global Health,4(4). doi:10.1016/s2214-109x(16)00040-1
  8. United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), ‘Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2017, Estimates Developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation’, United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, 2017.

For more information:

Target group: 
Newborns (up to 28 days of age)

Revision log

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 19:11zillmerkpublishedpublished
Mon, 10/22/2018 - 14:45GINAadminNIEdited by GINAadminNI.needs_review
Mon, 10/22/2018 - 14:44GINAadminNIAction created by GINAadminNI.draft