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Having a child three years away can prevent stunting in the child

According to a study conducted in India, having children at least three years apart can prevent stunting in children.

Based on data from 223,662 children under the age of 5 from the National Federation of State High School Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) in India, conducted between 2015 and 2016, the study was born less than three years ago. However, if the birth interval is 3 years or more, the firstborn has no height advantage.

“We show that later children are behind the first child in the consequences of stunting,” the researchers wrote in a treatise published in late February. Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences, “India’s family planning interventions have focused primarily on lowering the total fertility rate without paying too much attention to the length of the birth interval.”

According to a survey, of the 141 million under-five children reported to be stunted in 2020, nearly half (69 million) are from South Asia, 90% of whom live in India. ....

Plabu Pingari, director of the Tata Cornell Institute for Agricultural Nutrition (TCI) in the United States, who conducted this study, found that stunting (measured by comparing the height of an average child to the height of a healthy reference population) is chronic malnutrition. It states that it is an important marker of malnutrition, especially in developing countries.

According to researchers, stunted children are susceptible to a variety of childhood illnesses and are at risk of losing money in their cognitive and intellectual abilities later in life. They face problems with school education, productivity and income.

Known causes of stunting include poverty, lack of food, poor health of pregnant and lactating mothers, teenage pregnancy, and frequent illnesses. Considerable evidence also shows that birth order affects stunting and that children born later than the first child are at higher risk.

Pregnancy too early can reduce the nutrients available to the foetation and limit milk production. Also, if the children are too close, it will be difficult for parents to spend enough time and resources on each child.

“This treatise addresses the semi-truth of the literature on stunting children, where birth order has a significant negative impact on height outcomes,” said Pingari. SciDev.Net.. “The second child is at a disadvantage in height compared to the first child, and the third child is at an even higher disadvantage than the first child.”

Family planning programs in most developing countries focus on lower fertility rates. The interval between births is not very important. Our findings show the importance of increasing time between births to ensure maternal and child health. “

Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition, Director, Prabhu Pingali

Ravi Verma, director of the International Center for Women’s Studies (ICRW) Asia, based in New Delhi, said: SciDev.Net: “Confirmed evidence [in the study] Is compelling and emphasizes the need for convergent programming across nutrition, family planning, and sexual and reproductive health, in addition to maternal education. Many mothers get married very early in India.

“The findings show that nutrition has not acquired the necessary central stages of sexual and reproductive health, such as poverty, poor access, poor data and family planning programs due to inadequate policy support. Has a wide range of uses beyond India in various developing countries. “


Journal reference:

Dhingra, S & Pingali, PL (2021) Effect of short birth intervals on differences in birth order in stunting children: Evidence from India. PNAS.

Having a child three years away can prevent stunting in the child

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