Nutrition is one of the most important factors influencing early child development
In low-income countries, malnutrition is one of the main causes of child mortality. Poor nutrition in the early years can severely affect the physical and cognitive development of a child. In addition, the right nutrition in the first 2-5 years influences the development of the immune system, making the individual much less susceptible to diseases later in life.
A person's physical and cognitive abilities are largely influenced by the quality of the nutrition in the early stages of child development. This not only concerns the diet of the new born, but also the diet of the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Poor nutrition in the early years can have severe effects including:
Nutrients found to be most important for a healthy child development are:
- Delayed physical growth and motor development
- Limited cognitive development
- Behavioural problems
- Increased susceptiblity to diseases
In addition, parents in low-income communities should be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding for the development and growth of their children.
- Omega fatty acids: Development of the brain
- Iron: Growth, supplies muscles with oxygen
- Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphor: Growth of bones and teeth
- Vitamin E: Development of Immune System
- Folic Acid: Development of the Central Nervous System, DNA, and brain functions