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Maternal and Child Nutrition

Rising food prices and the financial crisis have led to an increase in hunger and malnutrition.

Children, particularly those younger than 2, are at special risk of hunger. The consequences of malnutrition during this critical window of development are long-term and irreversible.

Poor fetal growth and/or persistent undernutrition early in life causes permanent damage, including diminished intellectual capacity, impaired immune function and shorter height. These problems lead to lower achievement in school and lower productivity on the job.

Malnutrition is such a central issue that no fewer than three of the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals depend on improving nutrition—eradicating hunger, improving maternal health, and reducing child mortality. Despite the well-documented human and economic toll malnutrition takes on women and young children, the issue has failed to capture attention and interest.

In January 2008, the British medical journal The Lancet published a five-part series on nutrition, calling it “a desperately neglected aspect of maternal, newborn and child health … [that] has slipped through the gap.”

Further Reading

Beets / Bread for the World

Causes of Malnutrition

Long-term success in improving nutrition requires addressing the factors that allow malnutrition to persist.

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Girl with Oranges / Bread for the World

Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition

There is plenty of evidence on what works to prevent or treat malnutrition. By preventing or aggressively treating malnutrition during the first two years of life, children could grow up to be healthier, more productive adults.

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1000 Days

Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement

The 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday are the most crucial for a child’s development.

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Fact Sheet: Maternal and Child Health

Globally, women suffer disproportionately from hunger, disease, and poverty. Where there is hunger and poverty, there is almost always poor access to maternal and child health care.

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