Malnutrition, Peter Pan and never growing up

Fritzie Rodriguez
The first 1,000 days of life, beginning from pregnancy up to a child’s 2nd birthday, can determine the direction of one’s health and well-being

MANILA, Philippines – What happens during the first 1,000 days in your life is as important as what happens for the rest of your life.

The first 1,000 days of life, beginning from pregnancy up to a child’s 2nd birthday, can determine the direction of his health and well-being.

The lack of proper nutrition during this crucial period can have irreversible effects on children, affecting not only their physical and mental development, but also their education and employment prospects.

World Vision produced a short animated video showing how a young Peter Pan may literally never grow up because of poor nutrition. Watch the video below:

The womb

It is up to parents to make sure their unborn child will have a good start at life. A pregnant woman must have access to her needs, including sufficient nutrition and maternal care; otherwise, both mother and baby will suffer. (READ: Hungry and pregnant in the Philippines)

Malnourished mothers will most likely give birth to low birthweight infants who are also at higher risk of anemia, brain damage, stunted growth, infections, and lower IQ.

If a pregnant woman’s health is compromised, the child may not even reach her or his first 1,000 days.

Although women are at the forefront of securing a baby’s nutrition, this does not mean that men are free of responsibilities. (READ: Gender inequality and hunger)

Ladder

Malnutrition at an early age can prevent children from reaching their full potentials.

Instead of growing stronger and smarter, undernourished children will remain weak. This weakness may be reflected not only in their mind and body, but also in their strength of character. (READ: How hunger affects child behavior)

Without proper intervention, this may lead to poor school performance, and later on, poor work performance – that is, if they can actually secure a job. (READ: Learning on an empty stomach)

Think of life as a ladder. If a person has been malnourished since birth, it would be difficult for her or him to proceed to the next step. Instead of advancing to the next level, the child may stay stuck – or worse, even fall a few steps back.

By the time they start their own families, it is either they break or they continue the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. In recent years, statistics have shown that many families end up hungry and poor.

Big picture

Imagine this: If majority of Filipinos were born to families incapable of nourishing them, what would happen to the country?

A country cannot stand for too long if it is built on a foundation of weak and unhealthy citizens.

But families alone are not to be blamed. It is also important to examine the environment, opportunities, resources, and services that are made available to them. There may be a lot of this but not all families have access to these resources.

Having a bad start does not hinder individuals from succeeding in life. It does, however, make it more difficult than it ought to be. – Rappler.com

Child Health Now is a campaign by World Vision. It promotes good nutrition, proper childcare practices and education among families. If you want to participate, donate, volunteer, or sponsor a child, you may visit World Vision Philippines here.

You may also send your video materials, campaigns, and stories to move.ph@rappler.com. Be part of the #HungerProject. 

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