The Devastating Effects of Child Malnutrition

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Posted on 04/30/2013

Millions of children living in developing nations are at risk of malnutrition. Aside from the potential for children to die or suffer disease, the effects of malnutrition can also pose a serious threat to children's development in later life. In countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, many children are at high risk of developmental delay caused by early and even prenatal malnutrition, caused when a pregnant woman doesn't get proper nourishment. ChildFund is working to educate mothers and provide children with the food they need to grow into healthy, happy adults.

The Chance to Grow

Malnutrition is one of the leading contributors to childhood stunting, according to the World Health Organization. This condition affects more than 144 million children around the world, and it can cause severe physical and mental harm.

Early intervention is crucial to preventing child malnutrition, starting during pregnancy. The two-year period starting with conception and continuing through birth and infancy is known as the "window of opportunity." Unfortunately, many children do not have access to the food they need in order to grow and develop normally, which leads to serious complications in later life.

Specific mineral deficiencies can have a particularly serious impact on childhood development. Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that iron deficiency can lead to health complications including cognitive, social-emotional and physical impairments. 

Taking a Stand Against Child Malnutrition

Although child malnutrition and its side effects are extremely prevalent in Africa, Mexico is also affected by undernutrition. ChildFund has worked in Mexico since 1948, and despite being the world's 12th largest economy, 40 percent of the country's population live in poverty.

To combat the effects of child malnutrition and developmental disorders later in life, ChildFund launched the Integral Nutrition Program in the regions where we work in Mexico. This initiative helps pregnant women and children under 5 by providing regular checkups and educational programs to new mothers, designed to help them monitor their children's growth. While there is much to be done in Mexico, the success of our Integral Nutrition Program has resulted in a substantial reduction in child malnutrition in the areas in which we work. Since the launch of the initiative, malnutrition rates have dropped from 45 percent to 20 percent.

There is much work to be done to fight child poverty and combat childhood malnutrition, and you can help. Through sponsorship, you can connect with a child and help him or her to live a healthier, happier life.