India's Advice to Pregnant Women 'Irrational'

Pamphlets suggests they avoid meat, eggs, and lust
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2017 9:55 AM CDT
India Advises Pregnant Women: Avoid Meat, Lust
   (Getty Images/kate_sept2004)

A government pamphlet's advice for pregnant women in India isn't going over well. The booklet titled "Mother and Child Care" tells the women to "detach themselves from desire, anger, attachment, hatred and lust," spurn "impure thoughts," look at "beautiful pictures" to benefit their fetus, and avoid meat and eggs, per the AP and Hindustan Times. According to one gynecologist in India, the advice isn't just "unscientific and irrational," but it's "a national shame" in a country where 174 of every 100,000 pregnancies resulted in the mother's death in 2015, due in part to malnutrition and anemia. That's compared to 14 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies in the US, according to UNICEF.

Since women are typically the last to eat and receive medical care in Indian households, the government should be "ensuring that poor pregnant women get to eat a nutritious, high-protein diet," says gynecologist Arun Gadre. This would also help prevent stunted births; some 48% of Indian children under 5 have not grown to the proper height and weight. But "if the calories of expectant mothers are further reduced by asking them to shun meat and eggs, this situation will only worsen," Gadre says. With its advice against lust, the pamphlet also suggests that engaging in sex is dangerous for pregnant women, contrary to medical evidence. A government minister charged with promoting traditional and alternative medicine says the booklet contains "wisdom accumulated over many centuries" from "the fields of yoga and naturopathy." (More India stories.)

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