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Nutrition the primary factor in determining lifelong health in children


(NaturalNews) Most new parents understand instinctively that newborns are needy little people who must be nurtured and cared for, and one of the ways that we do that is by feeding them properly. Nutrition has always been important, per se, for newborns so they grow to be healthy toddlers, and that seems self-evident.

But a new book by journalist Roger Thurow says that the first 1,000 days of a child's life are critical in ensuring that he or she will achieve maximum health over the course of their lifetime.

As reported by NPR's Allison Aubrey, Thurow's book, "The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – and the World," chronicles how, for millions of women around the world, it is extremely difficult to ensure that their children get proper nutrition during this crucial period because the resources and infrastructure simply don't exist.

Thurow travels to the western highlands of Guatemala, where women there cannot even afford to eat the fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. In addition, he writes, they have a hard time dealing with parasites and other pests, as well as a chronic lack of clean water.

In rural Uganda, Thurow encountered young women in a region where the infant mortality rate is unusually high. Basic essentials are hard to find and the people there must make liberal use of mosquito netting in order to protect themselves from malaria.

Thurow also traveled to India, which is modernizing but still has a great many regions where poverty is rampant and women are pressured to bear more children than they can realistically support.

'If we want to shape the future...'

But he also visited regions inside the United States – such as Chicago, were parts of the city are so riddled with crime, death and murder soldiers are safer in war zones like Afghanistan. There, despite the affluence and abundance of most of Chicago, women have limited access to fresh produce that is affordable to them. Women here are often obese because they subsist on a diet high in processed foods that are equally high in calories and contain few micro nutrients.

Aubrey writes:

The stories are eye-opening. And, as Thurow weaves together the women's narratives, the point he helps us understand is this: The first 1,000 days of a child's life — from conception through the second birthday – are incredibly deterministic.

It's best summed up, as Thurow points out, by the words of Susan Ejang,a midwife he met in a Ugandan village who counsels young women. "The time of your pregnancy and first two years of life will determine the health of your child, the ability to learn in school, to perform a future job. This is the time the brain grows the most," Thurow quotes Ejang as telling the women.

In his book Thurow writes: "If we want to shape the future, to truly improve the world, we have 1,000 days to do it, mother by mother, child by child, for what happens in those 1,000 days through pregnancy to the second birthday determines, to a large extent, the course of a child's life, his or her ability to grow, learn, work, succeed and by extension, the long term health, stability and prosperity of the society in which that child lives."

70 percent malnutrition rates

That said, what happens when kids don't get the nutrition they need to get started off in the right direction? Very often, Thurow noted, kids don't develop properly. They're smaller than they should be and often more susceptible to certain diseases.

"It's really revealing. And kind of in the process of the reporting and following these moms and children in India, Uganda, Guatemala and Chicago to kind of draw global comparisons, but then also to show the commonalities and things. And you really see the impact of stunting," he in an interview
with Aubrey, who was guest-hosting "The Diane Rehm Show."

In some regions Thurow visited, child malnutrition and stunting rates approached 70 percent.

You can read a transcript of the interview here.




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