Micronutrient Malnutrition

mothers with their children

Vitamins and minerals, also called micronutrients, are the building blocks for good health. People who do not have enough of these essential nutrients develop micronutrient malnutrition, which can be devastating. Consequences include serious birth defects, undeveloped cognitive ability, and reduced productivity. Severe micronutrient malnutrition contributes to maternal and infant deaths and childhood blindness.

Iron deficiency is the most common form of micronutrient malnutrition globally, according to the World Health Organizationexternal icon (WHO). In the United States, one in six womenexternal icon is iron deficient during pregnancy; deficiency is higher among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. Iron deficiency is a leading cause of anemia. Severe anemia during pregnancy can result in poor fetal growth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and increased risk of death for the mother and the baby.

One way that CDC addresses vitamin and mineral deficiencies is through the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control (IMMPaCt) program. Established in 2000, IMMPaCt focuses on deficiencies of iron, vitamin A, iodine, folate, zinc, and vitamin D.

In the United States, IMMPaCt works on micronutrient surveillance and research to fill critical data gaps. With global partners, IMMPaCt helps countries develop and operate appropriate assessment, monitoring, evaluation and surveillance systems. This enables national governments, food industries, and civic organizations to successfully implement interventions such as mass food fortification, supplementation and home fortification to reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies. IMMPaCt also works with partners to develop global guidance and technical resources to improve vitamin and mineral intervention effectiveness, assessment, monitoring, evaluation, and surveillance.