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New Research Shows Nutrition Programs Targeting Pregnancy and First 24 Months of Life Dramatically Improve Child Survival and Overall Health
Date:1/16/2008

n mothers and children under 5 die unnecessarily each year in poor countries due to the underlying cause of undernutrition, and millions more are permanently disabled by the physical and mental effects of a poor dietary intake in the earliest months of life," said the series lead author, Dr. Robert Black, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "This series provides a new evidence base for expanded nutrition-related programs and interventions, which if implemented at scale would prevent many of these deaths and disabilities."

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 inta
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SOURCE The Lancet
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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