A child’s nutritional future begins before conception with the mother’s nutritional status prior to pregnancy. A chronically-undernourished mother is likely to give birth to an underweight baby, who may be stunted as a child and in turn give birth to malnourished baby.
The period from birth to the age of three is a time of rapid growth and represents a singular opportunity to provide a child with a strong nutritional and immunological foundation. Intellectual and physical growth is the most rapid, with doubling of brain size and quadrupling of body weight. If a child is malnourished during these early years, much of the damage is irreversible – the answer lies in prevention.
The low status of women, poor maternal nutrition, inadequate prenatal care and the disproportionate burden of physical labour borne by mothers are some of the greatest impediments to improving nutritional status. In Nizamuddin as elsewhere, malnutrition is also caused by improper infant and young child feeding with care by siblings being one reason. The project assessed the problem, analysed its causes and the action it took included working through the health and early childhood components of the project..
One of the critical windows of opportunity to prevent undernutrition is by taking care of the nutrition of children in the first two years of life, when proven nutrition interventions offer children the best chance to survive and reach optimal growth and development.
Throughout childhood, good nutrition continues to play an important role in keeping children strong, healthy and free of disease.