According to the recent published report in Lancet, more than 3 million children die each year because of malnutrition, accounting for more than 50% of deaths among the age of 5.
Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival, health and development. Well-nourished children definitely have better future.
But for the millions of children suffering from malnutrition, the reality is stark. Every year, around 3 million children die globally due to malnourishment. Paediatrician Dr. Simran Brar says, the root cause of malnourishment is lack of breast feeding.
“Some mothers who do not breast feed their new borns may deprived them of certain nutrients which may eventually cause malnutrition stroke in their growth.”- Dr Brar
Nutritionist Hemlata Dabolkar says, chronic undernutrition during pregnancy and early childhood manifests as stunted growth. Pre and post pregnancy quality care is essential for the babies.
“Children who suffer from chronic undernutrition in the early stages of life fail to grow and develop to their full potential.”- Dabolkar
What are the symptoms of malnutrition?
- Loss of body fat and muscle mass
- Lack of apetite
- Always feeling cold
- Skin may become thin, dry, inelastic, pale, and cold
- The cheeks appear hollow and the eyes sunken, as fat disappears from the face
- Higher risk of getting sick and taking longer to heal
Initial 1,000 days of a child’s life, from the day they are born until they are nearly three, impact their future health and development the most. Dr. Ashreta Karipeneni has PhD in child psychology, suggests parents should give prime attention to their children in order to avoid malnourishment.
“Focus on children mainly who are under the age of 5 to have the most proper intake of nutrition as these children are developing physically and cerebrally and cerebral growth is of prime importance under the age of 5 because at that age the neuronal levels are shooting right there in the body and these neurons, if they are not provided with adequate vitamins and nutrition will lead to disturbance in the hormones.”- Dr. Karipeneni
Globally, 45-65% of parents and caregivers report experiencing feeding difficulties with their children, which shows that many children – even those in loving and caring households are at risk of growth faltering.
Hormones are at the peek of development under the age of 5 and if you do not provide nutrition you can see it right there in child’s growth. If there is disturbance in any of these nervous motor systems it directly influences on the cerebral development which eventually affects child’s personality, behaviour and cognition.”- Dr. Karipeneni
What are the causes of malnutrition?
- Improper intake of food
- Mental health problems
- Digestive disorders
- Lack of breastfeeding
What a child eats in their early years can have lifelong consequences on their eating habits, either good or bad, it is important to set the scene for healthy eating habits at a young age to avoid malnourishment, says Dabolkar.
“If they are not given the right and balanced diet which included vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates,proteins, along with the hygienic environment – that can be one of the major reasons of children falling under the category of malnutrition.”-Dabolkar
What a child eats in their early years can have lifelong consequences on their eating habits, either good or bad, it is important to set the scene for healthy eating habits at a young age to avoid malnourishment. Dr. Brar suggest parents to feed their children home-cooked meals.
“They can prepare food at home rather than getting from the restaurants, healthy food at schools can prevent malnutrition.”-Dr. Simran Brar
Children who don’t get enough food often experience hunger, and over the long term this can lead to malnutrition. But some of them can become malnourished for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. Even who have plenty to eat may be malnourished if they don’t eat foods that provide the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.