9 October 2023 – The Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation Technical Advisory Group (MMS TAG) and the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Consortium (HMHB) have released a new guidance document on the use of antenatal MMS alongside the treatment of anemia in pregnant women. This guidance document is intended for national decision-makers, technical advisory groups, and program implementers who are considering or implementing programs to introduce MMS, especially the United Nations International Multiple Micronutrient Antenatal Preparation (UNIMMAP).
Anemia is a complex condition with other nutritional (beyond iron) and non-nutritional causes. The WHO recommends context-specific preventative measures, including antenatal deworming and intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy along with insecticide-treated bed nets. According to the expert opinion of the MMS TAG, for anemia treatment, additional iron should be provided while daily MMS is continued as a preventive measure throughout pregnancy, as would be done with IFA supplementation. Once hemoglobin concentration rises to normal (Hb ≥ 110 g/L), MMS alone can be resumed.
MMS not only serves as a source of iron, but also provides other nutrients that can prevent other nutritional anemias caused by deficiencies of vitamins A, B2, B6, B9, B12, C, D, and E, and the mineral copper, and improve iron absorption/utilization. The benefits of MMS are particularly evident for anemic women. If iron treatment does not demonstrate a rise in hemoglobin after a certain period, further assessments are necessary to identify other causes of anemia and determine the appropriate treatment according to the country’s treatment protocols.