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Children Need Proper Nutrition In First 1,000 Days   
 
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26-Jul-2014  
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A Medical Dietician at the 37 Military Hospital, Mrs Gladys Peprah Boateng, has underscored the need for proper nutrition for babies during the first 1,000 days of their life.

She said optimal maternal and infant nutrition from conception through birth to when the child was two years was crucial to healthy growth, improved learning potential, neurodevelopment and the overall development of the child.

Presenting a paper as part of a symposium organised by the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA) on “Maternal and Infant Nutrition, the first 1,000 days of life” at the sixth African Nutrition Epidemiology Conference (ANEC VI) in Accra, Mrs Boateng, who is the Chief Dietician at the Dietherapy Unit of the 37 Military Hospital, highlighted the world immense public health concern.

The conference, which was on the theme; “Food and Nutrition Security in Africa: New Challenges for Sustainability”, was organised by the African Nutrition Society.

It was attended by stakeholders from the academia, healthcare professionals and government and non-governmental agencies from across Africa.

The conference was organised a week ahead of the World Breastfeeding Week, which will take place from August 1 to 7, 2014.

The symposium was chaired by Professor Kobenah Nkyekyer, an Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Ghana Medical School and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

According to Mrs Boateng, “globally, malnutrition claims the lives of 2.6 million children annually. Malnourished children who survive are more frequently sick and suffer the life-long consequences of impaired physical and cognitive development”.

She said the first 1,000 days of life, which covers pre-pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life, had been identified as a unique window of opportunity to maximise the potential of lives. “Adequate nutritional care during this period has proven to have long-term benefits both for the individual and the nation,” she added.

Implications

Giving implications for the inadequate maternal and infant nutrition in the first 1000 days of life, Mrs Boateng said it was the leading cause of death of under-five children throughout the world.

She said over three million children died every year of malnutrition, accounting for 45 per cent of all under-five global deaths, adding that 12 per cent of those deaths were attributable to sub-optimal breastfeeding.

According to her, it also increases the risk of stunting during the first 24 months after birth.

NNIA contribution

The NNIA Co-ordinator, Anglophone Countries, Nestlé Nigeria, Mrs Chioma Emma-Nwachukwu, said her outfit acknowledged that the right nutrition during the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday built the foundation for a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive.

She said Nestlé, which is the leading nutrition, health and wellness company, was committed to promoting healthy nutrition during the first 1000 days of a child’s life.

The company, she said, would continue to collaborate with stakeholders in academia and the healthcare sector to identify and provide preventive solutions and strategies to promote optimal maternal and infant nutrition.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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