Baker Institute expert: Addressing child stunting in Pakistan is critical

September 11, 2018 by Jeff Falk, Rice University
Baker Institute expert: Addressing child stunting in Pakistan is critical
Pakistani Christian children playing cricket on a street in Karachi. Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

Pakistan's new prime minister, Imran Khan, must be commended for his pledges to reduce child stunting and improve maternal health in the country, according to a global health and human development policy expert at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. Stunting is impaired growth and development caused by poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

Farhan Majid, the L.E. and Virginia Simmons Fellow in Health and Technology Policy at the Baker Institute, said that according to recent figures, nearly 44 percent of Pakistani children are stunted, and that according to another estimate Pakistan loses $7.6 billion, or 3 percent of its GDP, each year due to malnutrition. Majid outlined his insights in a recent op-ed for Pakistan's leading newspaper, Dawn, and he is featured in a new short documentary on this issue. He is available to discuss stunting and in Pakistan and globally with the news media.

"As a development economist, I have always been interested in questions like: Why are some individuals and countries poor and unproductive but others rich and productive?" Majid wrote. "My belief is that Pakistan's economy has been left stunted because of neglect of early childhood health and development."

Majid said the first 1,000 days of life, beginning from conception in pregnancy to age 2, are particularly critical for and brain development; IQ is largely developed before age 10. "This is a source of major concern in Pakistan, where even before children are born their fate may be sealed due to neglect of maternal and child health services," he wrote.

According to the World Bank, a 1 percent loss in adult height due to childhood stunting is associated with a 1.4 percent loss in economic productivity. It is estimated that stunted children earn 20 percent less as adults compared to non-stunted individuals, Majid said.

"Some policymakers have traditionally mistaken investments in maternal and child health as an economic burden," he wrote. "They believe that there is a trade-off between what is socially just and what is economically efficient."

Explore further: UNICEF warns lack of toilets in Pakistan tied to stunting

Related Stories

UNICEF warns lack of toilets in Pakistan tied to stunting

March 8, 2015
More than 40 million people in Pakistan do not have access to a toilet, forcing them to defecate in the open, which in turn is a major contributor to stunting in the country, a top UNICEF official said.

Researchers report possible culprit in stunted childhood growth

August 27, 2018
Linear growth delay, in which normal growth in children is stunted, affects an estimated 155 million children around the world each year. Caused in part by malnutrition, it primarily affects children living in difficult economic ...

Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children

December 11, 2014
Malnutrition is a major cause of stunted growth in children, but new UCL research on mothers and children in Egypt suggests that the problem is not just about quantity of food but also quality.

Focus on basic determinants to address stunting globally, professor says

February 12, 2016
Mother and child malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries encompasses a range of conditions including maternal wasting, micronutrient deficiencies, foetal growth restriction and stunting - a height that is below the ...

Impact of minimum wage on child health varies

May 30, 2016
Raising the minimum wage in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) does not necessarily lead to better health for young children, according to a new study by McGill University researchers.

Recommended for you

Study analyzes numbers, trends in health care data breaches nationwide

September 25, 2018
Health plans—entities that cover the costs of medical care—accounted for the greatest number of patient records breached over the past seven years, according to an analysis of U.S. health care data conducted by two Massachusetts ...

Genes may control how tough it is to stop drinking

September 25, 2018
(HealthDay)—When they give up booze, some alcoholics have more severe withdrawal symptoms than others. This discrepancy may come down to genetics, researchers say.

Why industry influence on research agendas must be addressed

September 25, 2018
Industry influence on the research agenda—and the tactics employed by tobacco, pharmaceutical, food, mining, chemical and alcohol companies to drive questions away from those most relevant to public health—is the focus ...

New study finds concurrent use of prescription drugs and dietary supplements could pose health risks

September 25, 2018
A new University of Hertfordshire study found that using certain over-the-counter herbal medicines and dietary supplements alongside prescription drugs could pose serious health risks, especially amongst older adults.

Genetic determinants of telomere length in African American youth

September 25, 2018
Telomeres are DNA-protein structures that play a vital role in maintaining DNA stability and integrity. Telomere length (TL) is an important biomarker of aging and overall health, but TL has been mostly studied in adult populations ...

Baby sleeping in the parental bedroom not related to later behavioural problems

September 25, 2018
Sleeping in the parental bedroom as a baby is not related to sleeping problems or behavioural problems later in life. Moreover, there are indications that room-sharing may even be related to positive outcomes, such as improved ...

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.