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22 October, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Undernutrition increases death risk of children up to 20 times

BSS

A child who suffers from severe acute undernutrition has a risk of death up to 20 times greater than that of a healthy child, heath experts told BSS. Child underweight is a measure of child undernutrition that encompasses all children who have a low weight for their age, they said adding this could be due to stunting or a combination of the two.

Dr Rukhsana Haider, chairperson of Training and Assistance for Health and Nutrition Foundation (THAN), said acute undernutrition can be prevented through adequate feeding practices and improved hygiene, assuming that households are food secure and able to access healthcare.

Adequate infant and young child feeding (IYCF) is necessary for survival, growth, and development of children through to adolescent and adulthood, she added.

The lancet series in 2013 estimated that 12 per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five could be prevented through universal coverage of appropriate breastfeeding while six of deaths could be reduced with appropriate complementary feeding practices.

Dr Rukhsana said early initiation of breastfeeding meaning to provide breast milk to infant within one hour of birth will ensure their healthy growth alongside enhancing the immune system of the body.

She said, “Infants should be given first breast milk (colostrum), which is rich in antibodies and contains a larger percentage of protein, minerals and fat soluble vitamin than mature milk.”

“Generally, colostrum (first breast milk) is available up to five days after giving birth of a child. Sometimes it exists up to three days. So, we should feed colostrum to our children within one hour of their births,” she added.

Dr Rukhsana, also co-chair of World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), said, “We should not ignore feeding first breast milk as it is the first immunization for children, which protects them from many diseases.

Feeding colostrum to infants has long-term health benefits.”

Former Director of Institute of Nutrition and Food Science of Dhaka University Professor Dr Khursheed Jahan said child undernutrition is the result of multiple factors, including poor maternal nutrition before birth, infection leading to mal-absorption of nutrients, and caloric or micronutrient inadequacy due to a poor diet.

Stunting or linear growth retardation increases the child’s likelihood of death due in part to a reduced ability to fight infection and has been linked to a greater risk of chronic diseases later in life, such as heart diseases, diabetes and kidney damage.

She laid emphasis on launching intensive campaign to educate people on appropriate complementary feeding practices for maintaining normal nutritional status of children.

Inappropriate and insufficient complementary food feedings are largely responsible for poor nutritional status among the infant and young children of the country,

Breast milk is the ideal food for infants and an important part of diet of young children, Dr Khursheed said, adding intervention to protect and promote early breastfeeding can greatly improve child survival, averting their deaths.

“Breastfeeding helps prevent dehydration. Optimum breastfeeding practices also improve cognitive, motor and socio-emotional development as well as learning capacity,” she added.

According to a study paper of Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation, breastfeeding to infants within one-hour after their birth can reduce 31 percent infant mortality rate while 13 percent child mortality rate can be reduced through breastfeeding till six-month-old.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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