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Global Challenges Research Fund

The GCRF addresses urgent issues in the developing world through cutting-edge research. Through the fund, we're applying our knowledge across the globe and making a positive impact on people's lives.

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Andalas University

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17 July 2020  |  2 minutes

Could buffalo milk lead to safer pregnancy in Indonesia?

Professor in Maternal and Infant Health

Friday 17 July • Viewing time: 2 minutes

In West Sumatra, pregnant women and their babies face huge health risks. We’re finding a new way to help them stay safe.

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of maternal and neonatal mortality in Southeast Asia. In order to start reducing this, we first need to understand the reasons why.

During a previous study with Andalas University in West Sumatra, we found that a significant proportion of pregnant women in the region had a low BMI. They also gained less weight during pregnancy than is recommended by Institute of Medicine guidelines.

This led to a range of adverse outcomes, including a lower birthweight and trend towards small for gestational age (SGA) or preterm (PT) babies. These are both important risk factors for neonatal mortality, and are strongly linked to maternal nutrition.

Women in West Sumatra, Indonesia

A community-based solution

With help from the Global Challenges Research Fund, we’re exploring a nutritional intervention – using a traditional food to improve pregnancy experiences and newborn health.

Working with Andalas University staff, local healthcare providers, community members and farmers, we’re recruiting 200 pregnant women and giving them a weekly supplement of dadih – a local buffalo milk yoghurt rich in energy, protein and calcium. The women’s data is being collected throughout pregnancy, up until six weeks after birth.

So far, the project has been successful. Data collection is ongoing, but early stage findings indicate a positive trend towards higher gestational weight gain. The intervention has been accepted by the pregnant women and the wider community, and heads of local government have pledged their support. 

The project is also having a positive impact on agriculture and the local economy. It’s helping to revitalise the nutritional and cultural status of a traditional food, and create more work for buffalo farmers.

Our next step is to scale up the study to further evaluate its impact. We’re currently exploring expansion to a larger, multi-site project with colleagues in America and Ghana, with the aim of helping more vulnerable mothers and their babies lead healthier, longer lives.

Hora Soltani is a Professor in Maternal and Infant Health within Health and Social Care Research.  An important feature of Hora's midwifery research is its diverse nature and collaborations with a wide range of disciplines (including Design and Technology, Health Psychology, Food and Nutrition Sciences, Obstetrics and Health Inequalities) whilst retaining a thematic integrity with the core aim of enhancing care standards and reducing health inequalities for mothers and their babies. 

A nutrient rich buffalo milk yoghurt

More about the Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It links UK researchers with local organisations for collaborative, community-based projects — making a difference to people's lives in areas of poverty, danger and disadvantage. 

Research themes

About this project

Explore the people and organisations behind this research, and find related publications by the research team.

Global Challenges Research Fund

The GCRF addresses urgent issues in the developing world through cutting-edge research. Through the fund, we're applying our knowledge across the globe and making a positive impact on people's lives.

Research partners

Andalas University

Related courses

Our teaching is informed by research. Browse undergraduate and postgraduate courses with links to this research project, topic or team.

Get in touch

Find key contacts for enquiries about funding, partnerships, collaborations and doctoral degrees.

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