Fighting Malnutrition and Anemia in Developing Nations

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Posted on 1/2/2014

For millions of children in need and their families, malnutrition is a fact of life. Food scarcity and insufficiently nutritious food can mean that children often go without the essential nutrients and minerals they need to grow up healthy. In addition to posing development problems in young children, malnutrition can also cause a range of health defects in expectant mothers. Without sufficient iron in their diets, pregnant women can develop anemia, a shortage of oxygen in the blood, which can threaten the lives of their unborn children. ChildFund is working to fight malnutrition in the world's poorest countries, but the scale of the problem poses its own challenges.

Cause and Effect

Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of anemia worldwide, particularly in developing nations. Although malnutrition can cause a wide variety of birth defects, anemia further exacerbates these problems. Low birth weight, heightened risk of premature birth and child mortality can all be caused by anemia. Children born of anemic mothers can also experience fatigue, lower cognitive function, difficulty concentrating and physical weakness.

According to the results of a study published in the medical journal Blood, anemia accounted for almost 9 percent of cases of disability worldwide in 2010, with children under the age of 5 and women bearing much of the world's burden of anemia. This was especially evident in South Asia and much of sub-Saharan Africa, where many families live in poverty.

Across all developing nations as a whole, anemia was also the leading cause of disability among children under the age of 5, highlighting the urgency of the problem and the need to reduce rates of malnutrition in the world's poorest countries.

Helping Children Survive

Malnutrition is prevalent in many of the countries in which ChildFund works. According to the United Nations' Standing Committee on Malnutrition, a lack of nutritious food is the world's single leading cause of the spread of disease, as malnutrition weakens the immune system and makes it harder for the body to resist infection, particularly in young children. More than 3.5 million child deaths are directly attributable to malnutrition annually.

ChildFund works around the world to provide nutritious food to children in need and their families, as well as giving them access to resources and training that allow families to grow vegetables and get meat, eggs and milk from livestock. Another important part of our work is educating parents on nutritional best practices. In the Philippines, mothers and fathers have attended workshops in our early childhood development centers. There, parents learn that eating nutritionally rich food does not have to be expensive.

When it comes to fighting child mortality attributed to malnutrition, early intervention is crucial. Children under the age of 5 are particularly susceptible to the health complications caused by malnutrition, and pregnant women also need to eat nutritious food to give their children a healthy start to life.

Sponsoring a child is one of the best ways you can help save lives. For just $28 per month, you can help us ensure that children in need and their families have access to the nutritious food they need to grow up healthy and be able to fight infection.

Alternatively, becoming a monthly giving partner allows us to provide aid to families where the need is greatest. Your generosity can make a lifetime's worth of difference, so please consider supporting ChildFund today and help us save lives in the world's poorest countries.