Overcoming challenges to accelerating linear growth in Indian children

Overcoming challenges to accelerating linear growth in Indian children

Child undernutrition is measured by three anthropometric indices, underweight, stunting and wasting. Stunting represents long-term undernutrition, wasting defines acute undernutrition and underweight is a composite measure of long and short-term results.

This paper highlights the need to use stunting as an indicator of under five undernutrition and explores the challenges and public health options for accelerating linear growth in children. While each indicator reflect a different facet of undernutrition and interventions can have a variable impact on the three measures, the paper suggest that focus should be on stunting as the primary indicator of childhood undernutrition.

The author explains tat India’s high stunting levels are disconcerting stating however, that the decline in stunting especially its relatively greater pace in the past decade demonstrates that a modest improvement in linear growth is feasible. Accelerating the pace of this decline is critical.

Based on the analysis of Low Birth Weight (LBW) in India, the author reaffirms that appropriate socio-cultural interventions, the need to target the poorest women, improvement in obstetric care health facilities and increased coverage of iron folic-acid (IFA) supplementation are required to address linear growth retardation in children. There is also the need to combine several interventions like breast-feeding, immunization, treatment of infections, safe water supply e.t.c in order to have substantial impact on linear growth among children in India.

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