The Washington Post, December 2014
The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday represent a critical but short window of time to ensure a child’s future health and prosperity. Children who are well-nourished during this critical window reap a lifetime of benefits for themselves and their communities. The nutrition that a mother and her baby receive during these 1,000 days has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty.
The tragic reality, however, is that millions of children do not receive the nutrition they need to achieve their full potential. The damage to babies’ brains and bodies caused by poor nutrition during this 1,000 day window can be irreversible. Poor nutrition early in life can make a person more susceptible to disease. It can also impair cognitive development which may lead to lower educational performance and in turn, reduce an individual’s earning potential by more than 10 percent over his or her lifetime. Worse yet, over 3.5 million children do not receive the nutrition they need to see their 5th birthday.
The good news is that malnutrition is completely preventable thanks to a set of proven, simple and cost-effective solutions. They include:
-- Supporting good nutritional and baby-friendly practices, such as breastfeeding
-- Increasing the intake of vitamins and minerals for both mom and baby
-- Promoting therapeutic feeding for malnourished children with special foods
It is estimated that implementing these solutions at scale could save the lives of 1 million children per year. But we know we can’t do it alone. The effects of poor nutrition can be further compounded by infectious diseases that are all too often a result of unsafe water, a lack of proper sanitation or poor hygiene. Diarrheal diseases can complicate malnutrition and turn a healthy child into a malnourished one. This is especially dangerous in infancy and early childhood.
Addressing malnutrition requires action and investment from all sectors – including from partners working to improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. It’s why the 1,000 Days Partnership works to bring together a variety of actors from the global health and development communities. Together, we can work to ensure that every child has the best shot at a healthy start to life.
-- Yesenia Garcia, Communications Coordinator, 1,000 Days Partnership
For more information:
-- How can breastfeeding save a child's life?
-- Zinc and other micronutrients are proven to treat and prevent a vicious cycle of malnutrition and diarrheal disease.
-- We're celebrating simple solutions and the healing power of moms everywhere in our latest video.
Photo credit: Gates Foundation