Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Child malnutrition rates in India are higher than the average in sub-Saharan Africa
Nearly half of Indian children under age 5 are stunted and underweight for their age permanently impairing their mental and physical development. The family’s situation is just one illustration of what nutritionists call a perfect storm of factors driving India’s malnutrition crisis. Many children are born to teenage, anemic, malnourished mothers; feeding practices are poor; and the environment they live in, a crowded country where 600 million people have no access to toilets, is rife with fecal matter. Fewer than half of Indian children start nursing within their first 24 hours, receiving water rather than the early, antibody-rich breast milk that helps protect against infections, and most spend their first few years subsisting on protein- and vitamin-poor diets of just rice or bread. The fact that economic growth has still not trickled down to the poorest communities and the low status of Indian women are also major factors.