Promoting Nutrition for Healthy Growth of Infants and Children

It's imperative to develop new ways to promote healthy fetal and postnatal growth as there are unanswered questions which hamper progress, including the causes of stunting and intrauterine growth restriction and their links with other health outcomes. Therapeutic approaches to improve nutrition and promote the healthy development of infants and young children are necessary for the future.
People Impacted
$ 1.6T
Potential Funding
I have this challenge
the problem
Nature and Context

A key marker of poor nutrition is unhealthy growth, characteristics of which include intrauterine growth restriction (low birth weight for babies not born prematurely), and wasting (low weight for height) and stunting (low height for age) after birth. Underweight children can be wasted, stunted, or both. Better health outcomes are associated with nutritional strategies that distinguish between these cases, and rather than broadly increasing food energy intake, take a more precise approach, focusing on diet quality and targeting improvements in lean body mass and linear growth.

Symptoms and Causes

Women Fail to Make Appropriate Changes in Diet While Pregnant

A healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy is essential to support optimal growth and development of the fetus and the physiological changes that occur in the mother. Fundamental aspects of healthy dietary behaviors during pregnancy include consuming foods that contain optimal amounts of energy as well as macro and micronutrients, achieving appropriate weight gain, adhering to general and pregnancy-specific food safety recommendations, and avoiding ingestion of harmful substances. Previous studies have shown that if such behaviors are not adopted, there is an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including low birth weight, preeclampsia, pre-term birth, and neurodevelopmental problems such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (NCBI).

Varied Knowledge on Diet and Preferences Effect Resources and Recommendations for Pregnant Women

Although most women are aware that healthy eating is important during pregnancy, women may lack knowledge of specific dietary recommendations or may not have the skills required to improve their diet. Healthy eating may also be challenging during pregnancy as women face barriers such as food aversions, cravings, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, constipation, hemorrhoids, and heartburn. Women may receive and follow advice from a variety of sources, including health professionals, peers, and educational resources, which influences their choices during pregnancy. Understanding factors that motivate or deter pregnant women from making dietary changes is important for devising appropriate means to promote healthy eating behaviors in this population (NCBI).

the impact
Negative Effects

Poor Nutrition in Early Life has Immediate and Long-Term Consequences

Poor nutrition in the period from conception to 24 months after birth contributes to 35% of deaths of children < 5 years of age, mainly due to increased mortality from infectious disease. For children who survive, the effects of early undernutrition are long-lasting and largely irreversible and include a substantially higher risk of cognitive impairment and adult-onset chronic disease (Gates Foundation).

Malnutrition can be Mistaken for Other Problems

Ignorance about the symptoms of malnutrition, such as the lethargy and depression caused by iron deficiency, may be dismissed as “normal” or unimportant, further exacerbating the problem young women face (PRB).

Bad Nutritional Knowledge can be Generational and Effects the Entire Household

Women are often responsible for producing and preparing food for the household, so their knowledge — or lack thereof — about nutrition can affect the health and nutritional status of the entire family (PRB).

Economic Impact

Addressing Women's Health Impacts Socioeconomic Growth of Communities

Addressing women’s malnutrition has a range of positive effects because healthy women can fulfill their multiple roles — generating income, ensuring their families’ nutrition, and having healthy children — more effectively and thereby help advance countries’ socioeconomic development (PRB).

Society Bears the Long-Term Effects of Malnutrion

Malnutrition keeps people from reaching their full potential. Malnourished children underperform in school, limiting their future job opportunities. Malnourished adults are less able to work, contribute to local economies, and provide care for their families. Malnourished mothers are more likely to have underweight children, who will in turn have a higher risk of physical and cognitive impairment. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and economic stagnation (FAO).

Success Metrics
  • Further develop studies on short term and long term effects of malnutrition in early childhood development.

  • Educate women on the importance of their own nutrition while pregnant and while providing for their household.

  • Guarantee access to resources for impoverished pregnant women.

who benefits from solving this problem
Organization Types
  • Public Health Organizations

  • Governments

  • Public Health Workers

  • Farmers

  • Families

  • Nutritionists

financial insights
Current Funding
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Grants

  • The Title V Maternity and Child Health Services Grant

  • The Office of Adolescent Health’s (OAH) Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF

Ideas Description

Tens of millions of Americans struggle to put healthy food on the table. But poverty should never be an obstacle to eating fresh produce. That’s why our flagship program Wholesome Wave doubles the value of SNAP (or Food Stamps) when spent on fruits and vegetables.

Socio Connect makes it easier than ever to find out which social resource programs like Food Stamps or Medicaid, users may qualify for. Users simply answer a few questions about their household and Socio Connect will connect them with all the information they need.

Input Needed From Contributing Editors
(click on any tag to contribute)