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Pregnancy Nutrition Package

This concept focuses on making nutritional intake convenient, attractive, and culturally-relevant to improve maternal and infant mortality and morbidity (direct improvements on anemia, neural development, infection, low birth weight, premature delivery, hemorrhage, heart failure, etc.). It was inspired by posts by Alessandro, Suzanne, Avi, Meena, Jennica, Chris, and others on this topic, as well as this New York Times Op-Ed: . The example below focuses on the big 2 pregnancy nutrients (iron & folate/folic acid/vitamin B9), but depending on the common nutritional deficiencies in a region, this package could be adapted to account for other important nutrients as iodine, zinc, and vitamin A. This would also have broader effect on the long term health of the community. And adherence may be higher vs. traditional supplements that people often forget about or are afraid to take (fear of birth control side effects, etc)

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The following components work best in a bundle, i.e. a Pregnancy Nutrition Package, but could be distributed separately if need be:

1. Quality Iron Cooking Container: pot, pan, wok, etc. depending on what is commonly used in the region. Studies have shown that cooking in iron can effectively increase the iron content in food and ultimately the people eating it.

2. Food Images/Names Handout: lists local foods high in folate such as spinach, asparagus, beans, peas, lentils, sunflower seeds, eggs, liver, & fortified grains. Could potentially provide coupon discounts as well.

3. Cellphone Coaching: mom to be is texted (or called by automated voice) each day and replies whether she a) used the cooking utensil, and b) ate a folate-rich food. At the end of each week, she receives a message saying whether she ate enough iron/folate for her baby and herself as well as goals for the following week. She can also choose the time to receive messages, as well as whether the weekly summaries should be sent to any supporters that could positively contribute to her staying on track (such as a husband or mother-in-law)

Besides being bought by the mother, father, or their families, one could also imagine the "Pregnancy Nutrition Package" being given as a great wedding gift!

Phone Image attribution:

What is the minimum level of mobile technology needed for this concept?

Potential places for sponsorship (by Oxfam, Nokia, telecom providers, multinationals or local companies, government, etc.):

1. Cooking Container: perhaps if this could be purchased at an affordable price, bundled with the handout and text messaging service, it would be frequently used and displayed, becoming an aspirational object that other households want as well.

2. Food/Images/Names Handout: A food or grocery company can pay for the development and printing, especially if it comes with coupons

3. Cellphone Coaching: automated text messages/ voice calls, and maybe even the cellphone, could be subsidized by telecom carriers and cellphone providers like Nokia. Pre-existing solutions for automated voice calls and text messages can be leveraged.

How could this work in a low-literacy context?

Literacy taken into account as follows:

1. Cooking Container: this type of object is already commonly used and cooking skills are easily passed on through family and community members. No literacy needed.

2. Food/Images/Names Handout: the images make reading optional.

3. Cellphone Coaching: automated voice calls makes texting skills optional.

Which partners could help realise and deliver this solution?

  • Oxfam
  • Nokia
  • Mobile operators
  • NGOs
  • Government
  • Other - Feel free to elaborate in your description of the concept

Concept Builds

Below are some promising variants to this concept based on builds made by community members, and who I've added to the "virtual team" to receive DQ score boosts. Thanks everyone! Looking forward to any additional builds/constructive criticism:

DISTRIBUTION: Krassimira linked how these Pregnancy Nutritional Packages could be distributed through mobile maternal entrepreneurs, as discussed in Kara Pecknold's inspiration: . Kara's inspiration points to the analogous VisionSpring Mobile Eye Glass Business In A Bag that successfully improved eyesight for millions of low-income people while creating jobs as well. Also, for areas without a ready supply to electricity, Krassimira proposed the addition of a clean cooking stove (which improves household health) that also generates electricity that can charge the cellphone ( ). Both of these builds are full of potential!

OTHER NUTRITIONAL SOURCES: Alessandro's original "Cooking in iron pots" inspiration was a huge inspiration for me, and I'm very glad for his further builds on that other nutrients could also be 1) potentially released from the cooking container (such as zinc), and 2) included in local seasoning/food (as is the case with fortified bread & iodized salt; triple-fortified salt is currently being developed as well: !), 3) provided separately in a taste neutral powdered form ( as brought up by Kara: ), or 4) encourage personal or community growing of nutritious food (as suggested by Crystal and explored here: ). Clearly, we have a lot to play with in terms of customizing this package for different regions!

MINIMAL VIABLE PRODUCT FOUNDATION: IDEO London (James & Graeme) proposed a fabulous related concept that focuses on a standalone "Visual Nutrition Shopping List" ( I do think a simple visual handout would be a very cost-efficient, 80/20 way to begin improving maternal nutrition. The addition of local food retailer discounts, and timed text messages would increase it's power. And further development as discussed in this concept can flesh out the full potential.

RELATED CONCEPT: Margaret got me thinking whether there's approaches from a related concept ( ) that would make sense here (bundling nutrition with other maternal healthcare services/insurance, garnering social & financial support from the family & beyond). Haven't figured out how to do so cleanly, but am definitely open to other's ideas about this.

Virtual Team

Krassimira Iordanova,
Kara Pecknold,
Alessandro Ortega Amaral,
IDEO London (James & Graeme),
Tristan Cooke,
Margaret Mortz,
Crystal Nelson,
Dan Braus


Join the conversation:

Photo of Krassimira

Hey Vincent, I know this challenge is over, but I found something that I think is quite interesting and wanted to share w/ you- ..."President Evo Morales's government has even designated quinoa a "strategic" foodstuff and included it in a subsidized food parcel for pregnant women.",6. It kind of also relates to the Food Challenge we currently have...

Photo of Vincent

Thanks for sharing this Krassimira! The OpenIDEO challenge may be over, but the broader world issue most certainly is not. Quinoa indeed looks quite promising.

And you're right about the application to the food challenge, I particularly like the page on eating insects:,3

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