Why is it important to prevent early childhood malnutrition?
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Why is it important to prevent early childhood malnutrition?

March 10, 2020

Globally, about 156 million children under the age of five are stunted or have chronic malnutrition. Stunting refers to children who are not growing as well so they don’t achieve their optimal height potential and that has long-term consequences for children: increased risk of infections, increased risk of mortality, adverse impacts on their cognitive development, which affects their school performance, and in adulthood, affects the amount of wages they could earn. The age when stunting really happens is much earlier than we previously thought. By age two, it’s somewhat irreversible at that point. You have more scope to prevent undernutrition and prevent stunting if you focus on children under the age of two, and so the focus was then shifted to the first 1,000 days. One of the other drivers that needs to become a focus is adolescent nutrition and adolescent pregnancy. When they start having children early, they themselves are growing and are undernourished and so many times that results in their children being born undernourished. If we can have a focus on pregnant women, postpartum women, but also on adolescent girls, we are more likely to be able to prevent undernutrition in children. The big message is start earlier while girls are still in school so you can mitigate a lot of the risk.

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  1. Yes very true, start earlier and prevent under 2 children to fall into malnutrition; unfortunately many of the programmes by development partners focus in "reducing" malnutrition, when it is difficult and may not be necessarily cost-effective as of preventing malnutrition.

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