Stunting op jonge leeftijd – vooral in de eerste 1000 dagen vanaf de conceptie tot de leeftijd van twee jaar – heeft een verminderde groei en is nadelig voor het functioneren van het kind. Een aantal van die gevolgen zijn onder meer slechte cognitie- en onderwijsprestaties, lage lonen voor volwassenen, productiviteitsverlies en, wanneer dit gepaard gaat met een overmatige gewichtstoename later in de kindertijd, een verhoogd risico op voedingsgerelateerde chronische ziekten.

Bron: WHO

Many children in developing countries are exposed to multiple risks for poor development including poverty and poor health and nutrition.

There are few national data for children’s development but our conservative estimate is that more than 200 million children under 5 years of age in developing countries are not developing to their full potential. Sub-Saharan African countries have the highest percentage of disadvantaged children but the largest number live in south Asia. The children will subsequently do poorly in school and are likely to transfer poverty to the next generation.

We estimate that this loss of human potential is associated with more than a 20% deficit in adult income and will have implications for national development. The proximal causes of poor child development are analysed in the second paper in this series.

The problem of poor child development will remain unless a substantial effort is made to mount appropriate integrated programmes. There is increasing evidence that early interventions can help prevent the loss of potential in affected children and improvements can happen rapidly (see third paper in this series). In view of the high cost of poor child development, both economically and in terms of equity and individual well-being, and the availability of effective interventions, we can no longer justify inactivity.

Chunling Lu, Maureen M Black, Linda M Richter

Articles in The Lancet 2007 & 2016