The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has said that the first 1,000 days of a child are crucial for physical development and brain growth.
The U.N. stressed that breastfeeding as well as baby nurturing care in the first two years is extremely important for the healthy life of such a child.
The Chief of Bauchi Field Office of UNICEF, Dr Tushar Rane, stated this virtually, during a 2-day Media dialogue on the First 1,000 days of a Child’s Life held at the Emerald Hotel, Gombe, Gombe State on Tuesday.
It was organized by the UNICEF Bauchi Field Office with participants drawn from Gombe, Taraba, Bauchi, Adamawa, and Abuja.
The UNICEF Chief further warned that there are dire consequences if a child is not properly breastfed or given the proper nutrition early adding that many children can develop stunted growth.
According to him, the high-impact intervention during the first 1,000 days includes maternal supplementation and dietary counseling, weight gain tracking, infection control, and antenatal care from conception to delivery.
He added that intervention from 0-5 months of a child’s life includes exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, infection prevention and treatment, and nurturing care
In his words “The first 1,000 days of life is the time spanning between conception and a baby’s second birthday which is an important period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.
“The period of rapid brain growth and maturation is 80 percent by two years and failure of growth during this period is associated with long-term consequences which include schooling, productivity, and income.”
Continuing, the UNICEF official stated that “neuronal pathways are developing most rapidly in the first 1000 days, however, poor children are at great risk of malnutrition in the first 1,000 days.
“Stunting is associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment while gaps between the risk and poor in reading, language, and cognitive development emerge before primary school.”
According to him, “cognitive/linguistics delays accumulate early and last a lifetime, hence early life is a sensitive period for brain development.”
Speaking earlier at the media dialogue, the Executive Secretary of Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Maryam Abubakar, warned that the current economic reality might worsen the rate of newborn maternal mortality.
She said that the region has recorded more cases of child stunting, underweight, and wasting adding that one case of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in every six children is reported in North-East emergency states.
Maryam disclosed that 32.0 percent of children in Nigeria are stunted while 42.8 percent are stunted.
According to her, 1.0 percent of cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition in the country and the region account for 1.5 percent adding that the region also has 44 percent against the 40 percent of children lacking vitamin-A.
She attributed poverty as one of the factors contributing to malnutrition in the region.
SOURCE: Daily Post