There are a number of inspiring quotes floating around on the Internet about the importance of a strong foundation. In order to build a sturdy and lasting house, you need a good foundation. A successful career starts with the base of a solid education. The examples go on and on. While a safe home and a reliable job are important, you cannot have either of those things without the foundation of good health.
And where does good health start? Studies show the first 1,000 days between the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy and her baby’s second birthday are crucial to building a healthy and bright future for her child. Focusing on the first 1,000 not only gives a child a chance at a healthy life, but it also assists in promoting gender equality, helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and lays the groundwork for a prosperous future.
1. Promoting Gender Equality
There are some startling statistics surrounding gender and malnutrition. Young girls are twice as likely to die from malnutrition as boys. Malnutrition follows these girls into adulthood, leading to twice as many women suffering from malnutrition as men. You might be asking: how does this happen? In some societies, women and girls eat the food remaining after the male family members have eaten. Investing in the education of families and communities about the importance of the first 1,000 days helps break down the walls of gender inequality. It brings to light the significance a mother’s health has on the health of her children. Families learn that both baby boys and baby girls need careful attention and proper nutrition in order to thrive.
2. Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Poverty
A malnourished mother gives birth to a malnourished child. That malnourished child grows up to be a malnourished adult and then has children of her own that are malnourished. The cycle continues when nothing is done to create change. This cycle takes a toll on the individual, the family and the community through the loss of education, productivity and potential over time. When we fight hunger and malnutrition from the start, children are more likely to stay in school, dream for the future, and ultimately pass down good health habits to a family of their own. This breaks the perpetual cycle of poverty.
3. Laying the Groundwork for a Healthy Future
Malnutrition early in life can cause irreversible damage to a child’s brain development and physical growth, leaving the child stunted. Stunting often causes a decreased capacity to learn, poorer performance in school, greater susceptibility to infection and disease and a lifetime of lost earning potential. But that’s just the measurable damage. Roger Thurow, a champion for raising awareness about the importance of the first 1,000 days, says it best, “Perhaps the greatest cost of childhood malnutrition and stunting are immeasurable: A poem not written. A gadget not invented. A horizon not explored. An idea not formed. An innovation not nurtured. A cure not discovered. What might a child have contributed to the world if he or she hadn’t been stunted? You see, a stunted child anywhere becomes a stunted child everywhere.”
Malnutrition and stunting are not OK! Children deserve the opportunity to thrive and reach their God-given potential. You can join our efforts of preventing malnutrition and stunting by visiting our gift catalog today!