Nutrition during first 1,000 days of life crucial for childhood and economic development

June 5, 2013

A new Lancet series on maternal and childhood nutrition finds that over 3 million children die every year of malnutrition—accounting for nearly half of all child deaths under 5. Along with state-of-the-art global estimates on the long-term burden of malnutrition, the series presents a new framework for prevention and treatment that considers underlying factors, such as food security, social conditions, resources, and governance. Professor Robert Black, Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, led the consortium of experts who produced this series—a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2008 Lancet Nutrition Series, which revealed how pivotal the first 1,000 days—from the start of pregnancy until the child's second birthday—are to the well-being of both the individual and the society in which he or she lives.

"This series strengthens the evidence that a nation's economic advancement is tied to the first 1,000 days of every child's life," says Black. "Malnutrition can haunt children for the rest of their lives. Undernourished children are more susceptible to and achieve less education and have lower . As a result, undernutrition can significantly impede a country's economic growth." While some progress has been made in recent years, Black and colleagues estimates that over 165 million children were affected by stunting and 50 million by wasting in 2011.

is essential for the health of the mother and the survival and development of her child. The study estimates that 800,000 neonatal deaths are caused by . Furthermore, newborns who suffer from this and survive are at a substantially increased risk of stunting during the first 24 months after birth.

Undernourished women are more likely to die in pregnancy, to give birth prematurely, and to have babies who are born premature or too small for their gestational age. Over a quarter of all babies born in low- and middle-income countries are small for their gestational age—putting them at a significantly increased risk of dying. And more than one quarter of all newborn deaths are attributed to restricted growth in the womb due to maternal undernutrition.

An article accompanying the Series, led by Professor Joanne Katz, Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School, provides in-depth evidence on the mortality risk of infants small for their gestational age. Past studies have focused on low birth weight, but this can exclude many children who exceed the standard weight limit but were born prematurely or are small for their . "To prevent , we should track whether the baby was born too small or too soon, not just the baby's birth weight. This will allow us to better implement the appropriate interventions to prevent these conditions and improve survival," says Katz.

"Countries will not be able to break out of poverty or sustain economic advances when so much of their population is unable to achieve the nutritional security that is needed for a healthy and productive life," explains Black. "We need to redouble our efforts and invest in what we know works. As the study led by Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta of Aga Khan University shows, scaling up 10 proven interventions—including treatment of acute , promotion of infant and child feeding, and zinc supplementation—can already save 900,000 children a year."

Explore further: Experts seek ramped up action to save newborn lives

More information: www.thelancet.com/series/mater … -and-child-nutrition

Related Stories

Experts seek ramped up action to save newborn lives

April 15, 2013
More and more newborn babies are dying annually despite greater knowledge about what kills them, and cheap and simple measures to save them, a global conference in Johannesburg heard Monday.

Task force: Screen for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy

May 27, 2013
(HealthDay)—All women should be screened for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy regardless of whether they have symptoms of the condition, according to a new draft recommendation statement issued by the U.S. ...

Lose weight between babies, study suggests

June 3, 2013
The time between pregnancies is a golden window for obese women to lose weight, a Saint Louis University study finds.

Prematurity, low birth weight significantly impact mortality rates

April 1, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A study by University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers published April 1, 2013, in the journal Pediatrics showed that increasing numbers of premature and other low birth weight infants are the ...

Good kidney health begins before birth

May 30, 2013
Researchers have found that conditions in the womb can affect kidney development and have serious health implications for the child not only immediately after birth, but decades later.

Bigger birth weight babies at greater risk of autism

May 1, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The biggest study of fetal growth and autism to date has reported that babies whose growth is at either extreme in the womb are at greater risk of developing autism.

Recommended for you

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.