Fighting Child Malnutrition in 1,000 Days
Child malnutrition is one of the most serious side
effects of poverty. Without proper sustenance, children can be more susceptible
to disease, growth defects and even death. Malnutrition can also interfere with
children's cognitive development, which can cause them to struggle in school.
Providing children and their families with healthy, nutritious and affordable
food is one of ChildFund's most important objectives, and to ensure children get
the healthy start they need, we are working to improve nutrition for children
and pregnant women as part of the 1,000 Days initiative.
A Crucial Window
The 1,000 days that
begin with pregnancy and lead up to a child's second birthday are the most
important in terms of physical and mental development. If children receive the
nutrients and minerals they need during this time frame, they stand a much
better chance of going on to live healthy, happy lives. However, for millions of
children around the world, malnutrition poses a great threat to their
According to the website
of the 1,000 Days project, more
than 2.6 million children die every year from malnutrition. Approximately 35
percent of all child deaths worldwide stem from maternal and child
undernutrition, and 11 percent of the world's burden of disease is attributed to
a lack of suitable food. If children do not get the nutrients they need, they
are much more likely to become ill, as their immune systems are not strong
enough to fight off infections and diseases.
The underlying causes of
malnutrition are complex and often interrelated. Poverty
is the single largest root cause of malnutrition, as food scarcity and a
lack of access to health care can have a significant impact on how mothers nurse
their children. In fact, up to 1 million child deaths could be prevented each
year if mothers breastfed their children exclusively during the first six months
of their lives.
care of newborns and infants is crucial to fighting malnutrition in developing
nations. Without educational programs, many mothers may actually be harming
their child's development without realizing it.
"ChildFund educates moms
and caregivers on the best feeding practices for children's nourishment," said
David Shanklin, a former senior health specialist with ChildFund International.
"We've found that because mothers are time-challenged, they may limit the number
of feedings for the infant so that they coincide with when the family normally
eats. They're inadvertently forcing adult behaviors on an infant whose natural
feeding times are much more frequent."
Unemployment can also
have a powerful effect on families' ability to provide their children with
suitable food. Families living in developing nations are often forced to subsist
on cheap, monotonous diets that lack the vitamins and minerals children need to
develop. Over time, this can lead to serious health complications.
Ending child hunger and
malnutrition is one of the United Nations' most important Millennium Development
Goals. The 1,000 Days project and the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative are an
extension of the UN's goals to eradicate child hunger and ensure millions of
children across the globe receive the food they need to grow. ChildFund
is working to make this dream a reality, but we need your help.
To make a difference in
the lives of children all over the world, please consider making a donation to
Greatest Needs program. Alternatively, sponsoring
a child is an excellent way to ensure that a vulnerable child has access to
food that will help them grow up to be healthy, happy and productive adults. The
1,000-day window is a crucial time, and by helping ChildFund, you can invest in
the future of children in developing nations.