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Prenatal malnutrition and anemia, risk factors for several negative health outcomes like infectious disease, premature birth, and low birth weight, are extremely common and preventable issues faced by poor expecting mothers in India. This study draws from a month of clinical shadowing and health counselling within the OB/GYN wards of Niloufer Hospital for Women and Children in Hyderabad, a government hospital that serves the urban poor. This study examines how social and clinical attitudes of government medical providers towards poor mothers determine their understanding and treatment of prenatal malnutrition. Nation-states have historically staked agendas of “progress” upon the bodies and behaviors of mothers, and I aim to show that the construction of poor south Indian mothers as “backward” continues to influence the treatment of prenatal malnutrition today. I will also suggest avenues of future empirical research regarding the context and treatment of prenatal malnutrition in Hyderabad and other similar cases.
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