According to WHO, children, aged 0 to 59 months, are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is two (moderate and severe stunting) and three standard deviations below (severe stunting) the WHO Child Growth Standards median. Stunting is the result of poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
Stunted growth can result in:
1)Under developed brains leading to poor learning capability and performance in school.
2)Decreased employment records with minimum wages due to lost productivity.
3)Greater risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases such as obesity and hypertension during adulthood.
Stunted Growth in India: The Bigger Picture
Almost 62 million children (48 percent) under the age of 5 are stunted in India accounting for nearly 33 percent of stunted children in the world, making it the most prevalent form of under-nutrition. The percentage is variant in different states and Uttar Pradesh leads the list (56.8%) with maximum number of children above the stunting average followed by Bihar (55.6%) and Chhattisgarh (52.9%).
What is the Case Study All About?
A study related to stunting carried out by researchers at the Washington University and other reputed Universities claims that eggs can reduce stunting by 47% and decrease the prevalence of underweight by 74% in young children.
Randomly, babies with stunted growth (6 to 9 months) were taken for the study and their weight and height measurements were taken initially. One set of babies were given an egg daily and another group of babies (control group) did not receive any. At the end of the six-months study, babies’ measurements were taken again and considering all other factors as well, children given an egg daily were 47% less likely to be stunted and did not fall into the underweight category mostly.
The study has certain limitations though:
1)Adding one food to a diet influences the rest of the diet too.
2)The caregivers for the children might have given them different foods along with the egg.
3)The children in the control group might have also eaten more eggs, had their caregivers not been involved in the study.
Eggs for Nutrition
Eggs are a complete food, rich in protein, easily accessible by people residing in resource-poor areas and are priced reasonably, making it a wholesome and a practical commodity. As long as your child is not allergic to egg, he/she can continue taking the shelled food daily for a healthy and balanced diet. If you have any apprehensions regarding your child’s nutrition balance, you can get rid of your fears by meeting a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com.
Although the percentage of children affected by stunted growth has decreased between 2000 and 2016, the condition still affects 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 worldwide.
In India, the UNICEF plays a major role in convincing the Government to take immediate action to improve sanitation facilities and create awareness on the importance of hygiene among public to minimize stunting. Good nutrition and care right from the time of pregnancy up to the baby’s second birthday prevents stunting.
While WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months since a child is born, introducing mashed-up boiled eggs after the baby’s sixth month is a simple and effective way to improve growth in babies.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.