In Banke, researchers found that over four years the contribution of diet to developmental status were striking. ‘Even small changes in dietary intake were associated with impressive improvements in child developmental performance,’ wrote the authors in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition in January.
But that impact was tempered by household wealth, mother’s education and ‘home environmental quality’ including such things as availability of toys, dolls, and books, interactive activities such as mothers and children reading together, telling stories, and playing, and how often the child was left alone or under the supervision of another child.
‘Limited resource environments present many potential hazards to growing children, including poor nutrition, lack of medical care, increased exposure to infections, physical and emotional neglect,stress, and lack of stimulation for cognitive development … lower educational levels of the parents (particularly the mother) are one of many additional risk factors in impoverished households.’
The face of hunger, Om Astha Rai
‘We found that child developmental scores were significantly associated with household wealth, maternal education, and the home environmental quality’, the authors concluded.
Those findings echo the analysis in another recent study, which concluded that Nepal’s poorest families are 50 years behind its richest households in terms of newborn health. Key risk factors for neonatal mortality were a mother’s lack of a tetanus vaccination, her education status, giving birth before the age of 20, household air pollution, poverty, and having no toilet at home.
Rana says she sees hope in the next generation of women, who are different than their mothers: “Almost 70% of them have access to cell phones in Bajura. How do we use that technology to empower them? They want to do more, study more … The progress we’ve made is tremendous in terms of nutrition indicators but adolescence and youth is a missed opportunity — we need to do more.”
Thought for food, Marty Logan
Junk food is making Nepali children shorter, Marty Logan