Recent study reveals significant link between early chilhood nutrition and overall life achievement. The study, comipled by Lancet, reviewed maternal and childhood nutrition and found that over 3 million children die every year from inadequate nutrition. This disheartening statistic accounts for nearly half of all recorded child fatalities under age 5.
In addition to cutting edge global estimates of long-term effects of malnutrition, the new series outlined a new framework for prevention and treatment of childhood malnutrition. Considering underlying factors like food security, social conditions, resources, and governance, this comprehensive series offers groundbreaking results and recommendations to stamp out malnutrition and its devastating effects.
Professor Robert Black, Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, led the consortium of experts who produced this series—a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2008 Lancet Nutrition Series, which revealed how pivotal the first 1,000 days—from the start of pregnancy until the child’s second birthday—are to the well-being of both the individual and the society in which he or she lives.
“This series strengthens the evidence that a nation’s economic advancement is tied to the first 1,000 days of every child’s life,” says Black. “Malnutrition can haunt children for the rest of their lives. Undernourished children are more susceptible to infectious diseases and achieve less education and have lower cognitive abilities. As a result, undernutrition can significantly impede a country’s economic growth.” While some progress has been made in recent years, Black and colleagues estimates that over 165 million children were affected by stunting and 50 million by wasting in 2011.
Maternal nutrition is essential for the health of the mother and the survival and development of her child. The study estimates that 800,000 neonatal deaths are caused by fetal growth restriction. Furthermore, newborns who suffer from this and survive are at a substantially increased risk of stunting during the first 24 months after birth.
Undernourished women are more likely to die in pregnancy, to give birth prematurely, and to have babies who are born premature or too small for their gestational age. Over a quarter of all babies born in low- and middle-income countries are small for their gestational age—putting them at a significantly increased risk of dying. And more than one quarter of all newborn deaths are attributed to restricted growth in the womb due to maternal undernutrition.