The 1000-Day Window
The first 1000 days– from conception to the child’s 2nd birthday – establish the foundation of a child’s life, determining the child’s health and cognitive capacity. Without proper nutrition during this critical period, a child faces a lifetime of suboptimal health and diminished intelligence. This in turn impacts her/his ability to be a productive member of society as an adult and perpetuates a cycle of poverty.
For this reason, MFK partners with clinics serving pregnant women to provide them with nutritional supplementation, education, and pregnancy monitoring. Currently MFK partners with 3 clinics, each with cohorts of 20-30 women enrolled for 6-month programs. All prenatal clinics include the following activities:
- Provision of Mamba Djanm/Plumpy’Sup: Women receive 7 sachets of Mamba Djanm at a weekly health check-up and education session (1 sachet/day). One 92g sachet provides 500kcal, 13g of protein, and significant amounts of 23 vitamins and minerals.
- Weekly health monitoring of mother and baby (post-delivery): The clinic nurse and MFK nutrition fellow measure the weight and blood pressure of the mother (pre-delivery) and child’s weight (post-delivery) on a weekly basis. Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), a common indicator of nutritional status, is measured monthly (pre-delivery). A brief medical history, family demographics, and height are also recorded at the beginning of the program.
- Weekly nutrition and hygiene education classes: Health literacy in these locations is traditionally low, with little knowledge of the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy child development, or understanding of the importance of clean water for drinking and cooking. Classes include instruction in the main food groups, identifying healthy foods in the market, how to create safe water, and general safe sanitation and hygiene practices, and are designed to be as interactive as possible. The MFK nutrition fellow works with the clinic nurse to develop the classes, while
the nurse typically leads the classes.
- Cooking class: While the women in the prenatal classes generally retain the information presented, actual behavior change requires multiple repetitions over time. Participants often cite expense as the primary reason for not changing their cooking habits. The goal of the cooking class is to enable the women to learn inexpensive, yet tasty and nutritious recipes that they can replicate at home. Recipes are primarily for ensuring that as the babies are weaned, both mothers and babies continue to receive a nutritionally complete diet.
Women may continue in the program post-delivery to the end of the 6-month timeframe, contingent upon satisfactory compliance with program procedures (daily intake of Mamba Djanm, exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months post-delivery). Women who have taken Mamba Djanm daily and attend our weekly prenatal clinic and nutrition classes have had no maternal or neonatal deaths, no congenital birth defects, or cases of eclampsia! It’s exciting to know we’re giving these children a great start in life!