Produced by Amber Marshall
The Importance of Childhood Nutrition
By: Amber Marshall
Good nutrition is one of the crucial components that aids in a child’s development. Children begin developing during pregnancy and obtaining proper nutrition during that time sets the stage for a child to have a healthier and more prosperous future. Under-nutrition during pregnancy can have a negative impact on the growth and development of a child as it can potentially increase the risk of death during infancy. Long term effects include cognitive and physical deficits while also putting the child at risk for lifelong chronic health problems.
The first 1,000 Days is the span of time beginning during a woman’s pregnancy and lasting until the child’s second birthday. This period of time is believed to dramatically improve the health and wellbeing of a child well into the future. According to 1,000 Days.org, by gaining appropriate nutrition during this specific window of time, more than one million lives can be saved each year. Tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS can all be reduced on the human and economic level, and the risk of developing non-communicable diseases later in life is lower when infants receive appropriate nutrition. Proper nutrition during the first 1,000 Days can also improve an individual’s educational success which has to potential to lead to higher earnings in the future.
According to the USDA pregnant women have a higher need for vitamins and minerals, and it is important to choose foods from each food group that meet those needs. While it is important to gain proper vitamins and minerals it is also important to make nutritional choices that are low in “empty calories,” which are any calorie that is derived from added sugars and solid fats. Food choices that are low in fat, fat-free, unsweetened, or have no added-sugars are recommended as healthier options during pregnancy. Gaining proper nutrition during pregnancy will help to eliminate undernutrition at childbirth while also boosting the child’s immune system, giving the child the fundamental nutritional base to live a healthy life.
Providing a child with proper nutrition after birth is extremely important to aid in further development because they are developing at a rapid pace. Without proper nutrition, a child may begin to fall behind in certain developmental stages such as physical growth, visual and cognitive development, healthy immune system development, healthy body function and organ systems, along with age-appropriate weight gain. When a child doesn’t have the appropriate access to food with high nutritional value, there is a risk that the child will fall behind on a developmental standard.