The World Health Organization (WHO) in its policy brief revealed that over 162 million children are affected by stunted growth globally. Pediatricians say that the condition mainly affects children under the age of five years.
Stunting, in very simple terms, can be defined as being too short for one’s age. As you might have well thought, the growth failure in kids causes anguish in parents. So, what should parents know about stunted growth? Is it a permanent condition? What should they do to avoid the repeat of this condition occurring to their future children?
Causes of stunting in children
Unfortunately, stunting is an irreversible condition whose occurrence is as a result of many factors including inadequate nutrition, diseases, and even the genetic make-up of an individual. Often, growth stunting occurs during the first 1000 days of a child’s life.
Malnutrition tops the list of the causes of stunting in children. As such, the condition is more likely to occur in regions that have high poverty levels. In developed countries, the deficiencies that are said to cause growth stunting are largely as a result of lacking a balanced diet.
Bouts of infections are also reported to cause stunting in children. This is the reason parents are advised to visit the pediatrician as regularly as possible or whenever they are unsure about anything relating to the child’s health. Diseases and disorders that go untreated could potentially change a child’s life for the worst. Failure to treat disorders relating to gastrointestinal, nervous and circulatory system could be a cause for stunted growth.
As well as the factors mentioned above, hormonal imbalance and birth defects are among other causal factors. Stunted growth, however, occurs as a result of several factors combined together. In a case where it occurs due to one factor, say malnutrition, then it would be because of extreme malnutrition and starvation. That being the case, it is evident that stunted growth can be prevented if only parents take extra care of their children.
Unlike other childhood diseases, stunted growth is hard to suspect especially during the early stages in children. This is because the growth rate in children varies from one child to another. Furthermore, first-time parents do not know what to expect because of lack of experience. That as it may be, is not a justifiable reason for children to be affected by stunted growth.
Parents are advised to take their children for routine baby check-ups. Seek advice from health experts regarding the nutritional needs of your child and how you can best meet them. Parents, guardians, and caregivers are also advised to maintain high standards of hygiene.
The WHO hopes that the number of affected children will have reduced to approximately 100 million by the year 2025 due to increased awareness about the stunted growth.