Food security and climate change
Undernourished women and children under 5 could increase by 20 percent
Women and children
Impact on women and children
In developing countries, about 208 million women of reproductive age (15-44 years old) are undernourished, a major problem during pregnancy. “Undernutrition is a determinant of poor health and it is women and children who suffer the most,” says Andres de Francisco, MD, deputy director of PMNCH. “Maternal undernutrition can continue in children, extending the cycle for at least three generations.
“Undernutrition is associated with intrauterine growth restriction, leading to low birth weight of newborns and stunting (low height-for-age) –an indicator of chronic restriction of a child’s potential for growth.”
“These children do not have the opportunity to reach their full potential because of poor nutrition in the earliest months of life,” according to Stefan Germann, Director for Partnerships, Innovation & Accountability at World Vision International. “Without proper nutrition, newborns and young children can face irreversible damage to their cognitive development, which impacts educational performance, reducing opportunities over a lifetime for both the children and for the economy they contribute to.”
“The long-term damage imposed by nutritional deprivation in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and age two can be prevented. And the good news is that solutions to undernutrition are high impact and exceptionally cost-effective,” says Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Executive Director of 1,000 Days.
Malnutrition in the form of overnutrition is also a growing problem in low- and middle- income countries where women and children have increasing access to inexpensive, calorie-rich but nutrient poor foods. Overweight and obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension and large babies. The risk of preterm birth is also heightened, now the second-leading cause of death of children under the age of five.