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Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition
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There is plenty of evidence on what works to prevent or treat malnutrition.
Sachets of powder containing key micronutrients are cheap to produce and easy to use. Mixed with food and given to children, their effect on cognitive development is well-documented.
Nutrient and calorie-rich foods that don’t require preparation or refrigeration have been developed and can be provided to mothers for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
In addition to documenting the human and economic costs and consequences of maternal and child malnutrition, The Lancet series identified interventions proven to improve health and nutrition. These include:
- Provision of micronutrients to pregnant women, new mothers, and young children
- Promotion and support of improved feeding practices, including exclusive breastfeeding for infants (0-6 months) and nutritionally appropriate complementary foods for older babies and toddlers
- Improvement of sanitation and hygiene practices and facilities, including ensuring access to clean water
- Treatment of infectious diseases, including diarrhea and malaria
Ninety percent of the world’s stunted children live in just 36 countries. The wide use of these key interventions could reduce deaths of children under age 2 in these countries by nearly 25 percent.
Not only would more children survive infancy, but by preventing or aggressively treating malnutrition during the first two years of life, these children would grow up to be healthier, more productive adults.