Maternal and Child Wellbeing


The Center has documented shockingly high levels of childhood malnutrition among poor urban populations, largely driven by poor feeding practices in the first year of life. We have also generated evidence on how to improve feeding
practices for infants, specifically by promoting breastfeeding at household, community and workplace levels, as well as in health facilities. We must go deeper, however, to improve understanding of the contextual and relevant
influences on mothers regarding child nutrition, especially in the first 1,000 days of life, and how to promote and sustain good breastfeeding practices.

The Center has also initiated research to develop and test models of service delivery for maternal, newborn and child health within urban slum populations. These models have not yet been tested at scale and their utility in other marginalized communities is unknown. The overarching goal of this Unit is to understand the social and physical determinants of maternal health and child survival and potential to thrive, in order to develop effective intervention strategies for their promotion as part of the global push for improved maternal and child health outcomes. Three programmatic areas will define this agenda:

The signature issue for this Unit will be breastfeeding optimization. Situated within a broader Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition research agenda, this program aims to understand multiple influences of, and strategies to optimize, early nutrition, including but not limited to the magnitude of visible and hidden maternal and child malnutrition, and the impacts of preconception nutrition and nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life on long-term health and human capital trajectories. The program will continue its work on developing and assessing interventions to optimize nutrition, specifically breastfeeding. At the macro level, the program will aim to characterize the nutrition transition in the African context and its influence on maternal and child nutrition and health.

The second program of work will be Early Childhood Development (ECD), to understand and promote contextual strategies to optimize early childhood development and understand the factors, interactions and pathways that
shape child health, development and early learning.

The Unit will also contribute to broader Maternal, Newborn and Child Health issues by monitoring MNCH health outcomes and influences in different contexts, including obstacles to access for MNCH services for vulnerable populations.

Maternal and Child Wellbeing Experts

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