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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 28 July, 2014

Nutrition a “desperately neglected” aspect of mother and baby health

Undernutrition contributes to 45 per cent of child deaths in developing countries every year.

Image: Baby being fed via Shutterstock

NUTRITION IS A ‘desperately neglected’ aspect of maternal and baby health, a world expert told a seminar at Trinity College Dublin yesterday.

Professor Robert Black, Professor in International Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, told the participants that good nutrition is crucial to both individual and national development and is also a driver of a wide range of development goals.

He was speaking at a public seminar in TDC held as part of Trinity Development Research Week 2013. It was organised by the Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI) in association with Concern Worldwide, Irish Aid and DSA Ireland.

Professor Black, who is the editor and leading author of the influential Lancet series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, said:

Nutrition is a desperately neglected aspect of maternal, newborn, and child health. The reasons for this neglect are understandable but not justifiable.

The World Health Organisation (WH) estimates that two-thirds of the nearly seven million child deaths in developing countries each year are directly caused by infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria and that undernutrition contributes to 45 per cent of these deaths.

Professor Black spoke about his research into the interventions to reduce undernutrition in mothers and young children.

Professor Lawrence Haddad of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University also spoke at the seminar, focusing on interventions that can be taken regarding stunting, where children are too short for their age.

He pointed out: “Agriculture does have the potential to dramatically accelerate stunting declines. We must realise that potential, because nutrition specific programmes on their own will, at best, reduce stunting by 20 per cent.”

The seminar will also highlight some of the ground-breaking research being undertaken by researchers in Trinity.

On World Food Day this year, Concern released an infographic listing the ten hungriest countries in the world. Topping the list was Burundi, followed by Eritrea and Comoros.

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