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1.  The Global Hidden Hunger Indices and Maps: An Advocacy Tool for Action 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67860.
The unified global efforts to mitigate the high burden of vitamin and mineral deficiency, known as hidden hunger, in populations around the world are crucial to the achievement of most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We developed indices and maps of global hidden hunger to help prioritize program assistance, and to serve as an evidence-based global advocacy tool. Two types of hidden hunger indices and maps were created based on i) national prevalence data on stunting, anemia due to iron deficiency, and low serum retinol levels among preschool-aged children in 149 countries; and ii) estimates of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) attributed to micronutrient deficiencies in 136 countries. A number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as India and Afghanistan, had an alarmingly high level of hidden hunger, with stunting, iron deficiency anemia, and vitamin A deficiency all being highly prevalent. The total DALY rates per 100,000 population, attributed to micronutrient deficiencies, were generally the highest in sub-Saharan African countries. In 36 countries, home to 90% of the world’s stunted children, deficiencies of micronutrients were responsible for 1.5-12% of the total DALYs. The pattern and magnitude of iodine deficiency did not conform to that of other micronutrients. The greatest proportions of children with iodine deficiency were in the Eastern Mediterranean (46.6%), European (44.2%), and African (40.4%) regions. The current indices and maps provide crucial data to optimize the prioritization of program assistance addressing global multiple micronutrient deficiencies. Moreover, the indices and maps serve as a useful advocacy tool in the call for increased commitments to scale up effective nutrition interventions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067860
PMCID: PMC3680387  PMID: 23776712
2.  Higher maternal plasma folate but not vitamin B-12 concentrations during pregnancy are associated with better cognitive function scores in 9-10 year old children in South-India1-3 
The Journal of nutrition  2010;140(5):1014-1022.
Folate and vitamin B-12 (B-12) are essential for normal brain development. Few studies have examined the relationship of maternal folate and B-12 status during pregnancy to offspring cognitive function. To test the hypothesis that lower maternal plasma folate and B-12 concentrations and higher plasma homocysteine concentrations during pregnancy, are associated with poorer neurodevelopment, cognitive function was assessed during 2007-2008 among 536 children (aged 9-10 y) from the Mysore Parthenon birth cohort. Maternal folate, B-12 and homocysteine concentrations were measured in stored plasma samples taken at 30±2 wk gestation. The children’s cognitive function was measured using 3 core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery and additional tests measuring learning ability, long-term storage/retrieval, attention and concentration, visuo-spatial and verbal abilities. During pregnancy 4% of mothers had low folate concentrations (<7 nmol/L), 42.5% had low B-12 concentrations (<150 pmol/L) and 3% had hyperhomocysteinemia (>10 μmol/L). There was a 0.1-0.2 SD increase in the children’s cognitive scores per SD increase in maternal folate concentration (p<0.001 for all tests). The associations with learning ability and long-term storage/retrieval, visuo-spatial ability, attention and concentration were independent of maternal age, BMI, parity, the parents’ education, socio-economic status, rural/urban residence, religion, the child’s gestational age, birth size, sex and the children’s size, educational level and folate and B-12 concentrations at 9.5 y. There were no consistent associations of maternal B-12 and homocysteine concentrations with childhood cognitive performance.
Conclusions
In this Indian population higher maternal folate, but not vitamin B-12 concentrations during pregnancy, predicted better childhood cognitive ability.
doi:10.3945/jn.109.118075
PMCID: PMC3672847  PMID: 20335637
3.  Infant feeding practice and childhood cognitive performance in South India 
Archives of disease in childhood  2009;95(5):347-354.
Aim
Several studies have suggested a beneficial effect of infant breast-feeding on childhood cognitive function. Our main objective was to examine whether duration of breast-feeding and age at introduction of complementary foods are related to cognitive performance in 9-10 year old school going children in South-India.
Methods
We examined 514 children from the Mysore Parthenon birth cohort for whom breast-feeding duration (6 categories from <3 to ≥18 months) and age at introduction of complementary foods (4 categories from <4 to ≥6 months) were collected at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year annual follow-up visits. Their cognitive function was assessed at a mean age of 9.7 years using 3 core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery for children and additional tests measuring long-term retrieval/storage, attention and concentration, visuo-spatial and verbal abilities.
Results
All the children were initially breast-fed. The mode for duration of breast-feeding was 12-17 months (45.7%) and for age at introduction of complementary foods 4 months (37.1%). There were no associations between longer duration of breast-feeding, or age of introduction of complementary foods, and cognitive function at 9-10 years, either unadjusted or after adjustment for age, sex, gestation, birth size, maternal age, parity, socio-economic status, parents’ attained schooling, and rural/urban residence.
Conclusions
Within this cohort, in which prolonged breast-feeding was the norm (90% breast-fed ≥6 months and 65% breast-fed for ≥12 months), there was no evidence suggesting a beneficial effect of longer duration of breast-feeding on later cognitive ability.
doi:10.1136/adc.2009.165159
PMCID: PMC3428883  PMID: 19946010
Breast-feeding; Complementary foods; Children; Cognitive performance; India
4.  Association of birthweight and head circumference at birth to cognitive performance in 9-10 year old children in South India: prospective birth cohort study 
Pediatric research  2010;67(4):424-429.
To examine whether birthweight and head circumference at birth are associated with childhood cognitive ability in South-India, cognitive function was assessed using 3 core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery for children and additional tests measuring long-term retrieval/storage, attention and concentration, visuo-spatial and verbal abilities among 505 full-term born children (mean age 9.7-y). In multiple linear regression adjusted for age, sex, gestation, socio-economic status, parent’s education, maternal age, parity, BMI, height, rural/urban residence, and time of testing, Atlantis score (learning ability/long-term storage and retrieval) rose by 0.1 SD per SD increase in newborn weight and head circumference respectively (p<0.05 for all) and Kohs’ block design score (visuo-spatial ability) increased by 0.1 SD per SD increase in birthweight (p<0.05). The associations were reduced after further adjustment for current head circumference. There were no associations of birthweight and/or head circumference with measures of short-term memory, fluid reasoning, verbal abilities and attention and concentration. In conclusion higher birthweight and larger head circumference at birth are associated with better childhood cognitive ability. The effect may be specific to learning, long-term storage and retrieval, and visuo-spatial abilities, but this requires confirmation by further research.
doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181d00b45
PMCID: PMC3073480  PMID: 20032815

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