Undernutrition includes a wide array of effects, including:
-- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) resulting in low birth-weight
-- Stunting, a chronic restriction of growth in height indicated by a low height-for-age
-- Wasting, an acute weight loss indicated by a low weight-for-height; and
-- Less visible micronutrient deficiencies.
Undernutrition is caused by a poor dietary intake that does not provide sufficient nutrients and by common infectious diseases, such as diarrhea. These conditions are most significant in the first 2 years of life.
The research shows that 178 million children under 5 -- the vast majority of which live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central Asia -- suffer from stunting. An estimated 55 million children suffer from wasting, 19 million of whom are affected by severe acute malnutrition.
Stunting, severe wasting and low birth-weight contribute to an estimated 2.2 million deaths annually--representing 21 percent of all causes of death for children under 5 years old. They are also responsible for 7 percent of the total disease burden for any age group, the highest of any risk factor for overall global disease burden.
Among micronutrient deficiencies, vitamin A and zinc are the greatest
contributors to disease burden because of their direct effects on child
health. Sub-optimal breastfeeding increases the risk of poor nutrient
|SOURCE The Lancet|
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