India Rising Child Malnutrition.

Costly Nutritious Food Driving Up Malnutrition In India | HungryForever  Food Blog
‘Good nutrition allows children to survive, grow, develop, learn, play, participate and contribute—while malnutrition robs children of their futures and leaves young lives hanging in the balance’.

According to the World Health Organisation, over 8 lakh children under the age of five died in India due to issues related to malnutrition. Adequate Nutrition is essential for human development. Malnutrition includes both undernutrition as well as over-nutrition and refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in the intake of energy, protein and/or other nutrients.

Malnutrition in children occurs as a complex interplay among various factors like poverty, maternal health illiteracy, diseases like diarrhoea, home environment, dietary practices, hand washing and other hygiene practices, etc. Low birth weight, episode of diarrhoea within the last 6 months and the presence of developmental delay are often associated with malnutrition in most developing nations including India.

Hunger and Malnutrition in India

While Malnutrition and Infant Mortality Rates remain high, the budget allocated for minors, constituting 40% of India’s population remains at a meagre 4%. For example, in the village of Damodar Mohuli in Bihar, the only anganwadi in the village has been non-functional for the past 6 months. The anganwadi worker has not received her salary for this time period, and doesn’t open the centre due to lack of food and medicines. The children are suffering as a result.

A sound foundation is critical for the overall development of a human being. In fact, 90% development of the brain occurs within 5-6 years of age. Thus, to ensure a right start to life, early childhood care and learning is exceedingly important. The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is one of the largest public service schemes in India catering to the need of children below the age of 6 years. This scheme, implemented from 1,974 onwards, has the potential to have the most comprehensive coverage.

Malnutrition in India: Are things finally on the up?

Reasons for malnutrition

  • A low intake of food

Some people develop malnutrition because there is not enough food available or because they have difficulty eating or absorbing nutrients.

  • Social and mobility problems

There are actors that can affect a person’s eating habits and potentially lead to malnutrition, such as disability to move, limited cooking skills etc.

  • Digestive disorders and stomach conditions

If the body does not absorb nutrients efficiently, even a healthful diet may not prevent malnutrition.

Types of malnutrition

  • Wasting

Children are defined as wasted if their weight- to- height is way below the standard ratio set by WHO.

  • Stunting

Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is less than standard ratio.

  • Underweight

An underweight person is a person whose body weight is considered too low to be healthy. If a person is underweight, their body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to build healthy bones, skin and hair.

CRY (Child Rights and You) realises this issue and works at the grassroots level with its partner organisations to ensure that communities become aware about malnutrition and informed about the situation of children and act towards bringing a positive change.

CRY’s efforts to prevent malnutrition and eradicate it from the roots focuses on the following:

  • The pregnant mother, because with proper prenatal care, adequate food and timely health check-ups, a pregnant woman stays fit and gives birth a healthy child. Without it she transfers her ill-health to her unborn child, and sets off a cycle of malnourishment.
  • Proper immunisation procedure, as lack of healthcare during the first two years of a child’s life can contribute to a lifetime of ill health. Timely polio drops, immunisation and monitored development, are crucial to preventing malnourishment.
  • Wholesome nutrition because it is not enough to feed hunger. Without essential micronutrients like iodine, iron and vitamins, children suffer brain damage, night blindness, rickets, anaemia and even heart failure.
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Infant Protection Day

Infant Protection Day is celebrated on 7 November. The day aims to celebrate the day to spread awareness about the safety of infants and protect their lives by taking proper care of infants.

It should be made aware that due to the lack of proper protection and proper care, newborns face a lot of problems. 

According to The World Health Organisation’s report, In 2019, 2.4 million children died in the first month of their life. Every day there are approximately 7,000 deaths each day, which constitute 47% of all child deaths (under the age of 5 years), which estimates to one-third of deaths on the day of birth and approx three-quarter deaths within the first week of life.

Infant mortality in India:

India - infant mortality rate 2009-2019 | Statista

In India, the infant mortality rate is higher as compared to other countries due to the lack of health care. The government has announced an effective measure to prevent infant mortality by implementing it. Due to the lack of basic health services, lack of awareness, and the increasing burden of the population, there has not been an expected reduction in infant mortality.

Globally :

Although the total number of newborn deaths globally showed a decline in figures from 5 million in 1990 to 2.4 million in 2019, and the report stated that newborns face the greatest risk of deaths in their first 28 days.

Newborn care and safety :

Sleep problems common among infants, improve by age two: Study - The Week

Newborn care and safety are the activities and precautions recommended for new parents or caregivers. It is also an educational goal of many hospitals and birthing centers when it’s time to bring their infant home.

Infant need vaccines because the diseases they protect against can strike at an early age and can be very dangerous in childhood.

Sudden infant death syndrome :

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death or crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of a child of less than one year of age. Diagnosis requires that the death remain unexplained even after a thorough autopsy  and detailed death scene investigation. SIDS usually occurs during sleep. There is usually no noise or evidence of struggle. SIDS remains the leading cause of infant mortality in Western countries, contributing to half of all post-neonatal deaths.

The exact cause of SIDS is unknown. The requirement of a combination of factors including a specific underlying susceptibility, a specific time in development, and an environmental stressor has been proposed. These environmental stressors may include sleeping on the stomach or side, overheating, and exposure to tobacco smoke.  Another risk factor is being born before 39 weeks of gestation. SIDS makes up about 80% of sudden and unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs).  The other 20% of cases are often caused by infections, genetic disorders, and heart problems.

Prevention :

A number of measures have been found to be effective in preventing SIDS including changing the sleeping position, breastfeeding, limiting soft bedding, immunizing the infant and using pacifiers.

Sleep positioning :

Pinterest

Sleeping on the back has been found to reduce the risk of SIDS.[66] It is thus recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and promoted as a best practice by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) “Safe to Sleep” campaign. The incidence of SIDS has fallen in a number of countries in which this recommendation has been widely adopted.

Vaccination :

Higher rates of DTP immunization is associated with lower rates of SIDS supporting recommendations on timely DTP immunization.

Many other studies have also reached conclusions that vaccinations reduce the risk of SIDS. Studies generally show that SIDS risk is approximately halved by vaccinations.

Infants can be the change makers of tomorrow, these little hearts are to build a bigger dream of possibility, they are the future and we must protect them. This Infant Protection Day, let us make a promise to raise them in a better world.

“future of the society lies on the nobility of infants today“.

Infant Protection Day promotes the proper development of infants and children to protect the well being and health of both mother and child. Alarmingly the first few hours and days are the most critical ones, for both to be carefully handled for their healthy future. Hence being careful toward them becomes our priority.