Diabetes, HBP, Lung Disease, Others Take Root in Early Childhood

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Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that nutritional deficiencies early in life can lead to multiple forms of malnutrition and in adulthood, it can have adverse effects, leading to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular and lung diseases.

It said despite wide acceptance of guidelines it provides for nutrition and its benefits in the overall childhood, days of a child, too many children do not get the nutrition they need at the time they need it‎.

UNICEF nutrition specialist, Dr. Bamidele Omotola who disclosed this recently at a training in Kano, said nutritional deficiencies early in life can lead to multiple forms of malnutrition and increase the risk of infection, decrease immunity and hinder a child’s ability to recover from illness.

He said in low and middle income countries, the age of 3-24 months is a time when growth falters for too many children, while emphasising that an inadequate diet during this period increases the risk of stunting, micro-nutrient deficiencies, illness and death.

He said: “Health issues related to nutrition can also do lifelong harm. Diarrhoea can harm fitness, growth and cognitive development and, as a result, impede later school performance.

“And diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular and lung disease often take root in early experiences, sometimes beginning even before birth.

“Globally, only 40 per cent of the world’s infants under six months old or two out of five are breasted exclusively. Only half of the children aged 6-23 months around the world are fed frequently enough and about one-third are fed a minimally diverse diet, which is defined as at least four out of seven food groups.‎”

He said support at the early stages is essential not only to help children survive, but also to help them thrive.