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Poor Growth in the Womb Cited as Number One Cause of Stunting in Children under Five Years

Experts say one-third of children under the age of five are stunted

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FILE - UNICEF staff measure a girl's height to see if she is stunted in a village health clinic of South Hamgyong province, North Korea. VOA
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November 2, 2016: The number one risk factor for stunting in children under five years old is poor growth in the womb, according to a new study.

Investigators at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health say more emphasis should be placed on pregnant women to eliminate stunting, a major cause of economic hardship in developing countries.

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The primary causes of stunting typically are thought to be environmental exposures after birth, such as malnutrition, infectious disease and poor sanitation. However, new research now targets poor fetal growth as the primary cause. The study was published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Researchers say the problem appears to be inter-generational, with mothers of stunted children often stunted themselves.

“We may need to improve nutrition and prevent infection, especially among women of reproductive age for a few generations until we get this burden removed,” said Goodarz Danaei, an assistant professor of Global Health at Harvard and lead author of the study.

Experts say one-third of children under the age of five are stunted. That translates into 44 million two-year-olds in 137 developing countries.

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Experts say key brain and physical development occurs during the first 1,000 days of life, so stunted growth is considered a major risk factor for childhood survival and an economic burden in developing countries.

In the Harvard study, investigators cited 18 risk factors for stunting, grouping them into five categories in order of priority:

  • Poor fetal growth and preterm birth;
  • Environmental factors, including contaminated water, poor sanitation and indoor biomass fuel use;
  • Maternal nutrition and infection;
  • Child nutrition and infection;
  • Teenage motherhood and short birth intervals (less than two years between child births).
    One Sustainable Development Goal set by the United Nations is to reduce childhood stunting by 40 percent by the year 2025.

To do that, Danaei believes there has to be a shift in how public health officials address stunting by focusing on the health of women of childbearing age.

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“So we think that we now need to keep doing what we were doing before, but also shift some of the focus on and attention on pre-pregnancy and pregnancy as well as environmental factors — specifically poor sanitation — to remove the rest of the stunting in the world,” Danaei said.

Danaei and his colleagues plan to examine the economic costs of stunting globally, which are considered enormous.

Danaei hopes the latest report helps the World Health Organization and World Bank prioritize the risk factors that should be targeted to eliminate stunting. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons
Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?