n Institute of African Studies Research Review - Nutrition and reproduction




The general health status including reproductive health of every adult of reproductive age alive today has already been determined to a large extent by the quality of the nutritional environment from his or her conception through infancy, childhood and adolescence to his or her present age. The effects of intrauterine malnutrition can persist throughout life. Poor feeding practices during the first 2 years of life have immediate and often long-term negative consequences on growth and development. Poor nutrition during the growing years affects growth and development potential, while nutritional stress during adolescence and the reproductive years affects the health of especially women and consequently, the next generation. There are critical periods at the different stages in the life cycle, during which specific nutrient deprivations result in irreversible damage, which limit the full growth and functional potential of the individual. This paper discusses the role of nutrition in human development from conception to reproductive age, highlighting the negative effects of nutritional deprivation during the process. Since life begins at conception, and the female is responsible for ensuring that a full-term, healthy, viable infant is born and adequately fed to maturity, attention will be drawn to recommended feeding and dietary needs of women that would break the cycle of poor health and nutrition that passes on from generation to generation.


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