WHAT HAPPENS TO A MALNOURISHED CHILD?
Malnutrition can take several forms. The term malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of nutrients.
Undernourishment occurs when someone is deficient in nutrients. This can lead to wasting – when a person faces severe acute malnutrition and is dangerously thin. Wasting is potentially life-threatening. If undernutrition is not treated – particularly during the critical first 1,000 days of life when development occurs faster than at any age – they will experience stunted growth. Stunting is a chronic condition that inhibits a child’s mental and physical development.
Children who experience stunting or wasting are also likely to suffer from diet related chronic diseases, weakened immunity and lower response to vaccines, making them more susceptible to various long-term health issues.
In 2020, over 149 million children under 5 were affected by stunting, and 45 million affected by wasting – depriving them of the opportunity to achieve their full potential before they even reach school age.
Micronutrient deficiencies in children, adolescents, and women can also perpetuate malnutrition and impair health, educational attainment, and increase the likelihood of low birth weight children. For example, insufficient iron can cause anaemia, particularly in pregnant women, and can lead to pregnancy complications. Insufficient Vitamin A is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness. An estimated 48 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa and 44 percent of children in South Asia are Vitamin A deficient.