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Adequate micronutrient intake has important benefits for both women and their children. Breastfeeding children benefit from micronutrient supplementation that mothers receive, especially
vitamin A. Iron supplementation of women during pregnancy protects the mother and infant against anaemia, which is considered a major cause of perinatal and maternal mortality. Anaemia also results in an
increased risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Finally, iodine deficiency is related to a number of adverse pregnancy outcomes including abortion, faetal brain damage and congenital malformation, stillbirth, low intelligent quotient (IQ) and prenatal death.
The 2013 GDHS collected data on use of vitamin A and iron-folic acid supplements among women age 15-49 with a child born in the past five years, use of deworming medication during the last pregnancy, and the percentage of women living in households with iodised salt.
A single dose of vitamin A is typically given to women within 45 days of childbirth, aimed at increasing the mother’s vitamin A level and the content of the vitamin in her breast milk for the benefit of her child. Because of the risk of teratogenesis (abnormal development of the foetus) resulting from high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy, the dose should not be given to pregnant women. This table includes measures that are useful in assessing micronutrient intake by women during pregnancy and the two months after birth (postpartum period). The results show that, overall, 85 percent of women age 15–49 years received vitamin A supplementation within the first two months after the birth of their last child. Intake of vitamin A is higher among women in rural than urban areas (88 percent versus 82
percent). The proportion of women receiving postpartum vitamin A is lowest among those age 15–19 (76 percent). In terms of LGAs, the proportion of women receiving postpartum vitamin A is highest in
Kerewan and Mansakonko (92 percent each) and lowest in Banjul (81 percent). The percentage of women receiving postpartum vitamin A decreases with increasing education and wealth.
With regard to iron supplementation during pregnancy, 45 percent of women reported taking iron tablets or syrup for 90 or more days during the pregnancy of their most recent birth. Only 3 percent did not take any iron supplements during pregnancy. Almost half of women age 15-19 (49 percent) consumed iron tablets or syrup 90 or more days. Rural women (49 percent) were more likely than urban women (40 percent) to take iron tablets or syrup for 90 or more days during their most recent pregnancy. Kerewan has the highest proportion of women who consumed iron supplements for 90 or more days (67 percent).
Forty percent of women reported having taken deworming medication during the pregnancy of their most recent birth. Women residing in rural areas (45 percent) and those living in Janjanbureh (69 percent) are most likely to take deworming medicine.
Seventy-six percent of women with a child born in the last five years live in households with iodised salt. The percentage of women who live in households with iodised salt is higher in urban areas (91
percent) than in rural areas (62 percent). Kerewan has the lowest proportion of women living in households with iodised salt (46 percent), and Kanifing has the highest proportion (92 percent). Consumption of iodised salt is inversely associated with women’s education and household wealth.
Among women age 15-49 with a child born in the past five years, the percentage who received a vitamin A dose in the first two months after the birth of the last child, the percent distribution by number of
days they took iron tablets or syrup during the pregnancy of the last child, and the percentage who took deworming medication during the pregnancy of the last child, and among women age 15-49 with a child born in the past five years and who live in households that were tested for iodised salt, the percentage who live in households with iodised salt, by background characteristics, The Gambia 2013