What every family and community should know about Child Growth (Part 1)

The following is lifted from Facts for Life, Philippine National Edition, published by the Philippine Information Agency in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Malnutrition and infection hold back the physical and mental development of millions of children. The eight prime messages could help parents to prevent most child malnutrition, even in low-income communities.

Some parents are unable to feed their children properly because of natural calamities, armed conflict, poverty, and lack of education. Only political and economic action, often involving land reform and investment in food production by and for the low-income families, can solve this problem.

Factors contributing to the malnutrition problem in the country are:

  • Low supply of needed foods
  • Low income
  • Large family size
  • Decline in breastfeeding and increased bottle feeding
  • Parasitism and other diseases affecting digestion
  • Low level of general and nutrition education
  • Poor water and sanitation conditions

But the great majority of parents either grow enough or earn enough to provide an adequate diet for their young children – if they know about the special needs of the young child and if they are supported by their communities and governments in putting that knowledge into practice.

Malnutrition is the greatest enemy of children. It impairs the total development of the child. It may cause mental, physical, and emotional disabilities in children. It may even cause death.

A malnourished child is susceptible to infections. He has a very poor appetite and digestion. Much of the growth of the human brain and human body take place during the first five years of life. Cases of malnutrition in children 0-6 years must therefore be reported to the health/nutrition worker and properly attended to. Everyone must be concerned with finding ways of overcoming malnutrition.