Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Child malnutrition begins during pregnancy

57.30% of pregnant women in Colombia suffer from anemia due to iron deficiency, producing premature births, scarce intrauterine growth and underweight newborns.

Bogotá D. C., 08 de julio de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

In Colombia a great amount of pregnant women suffer from anemia.

La Guajira is the Colombian Province with the greatest amount of deaths due to malnutrition.

0.9% of children in the country suffer from acute malnutrition.

Mothers with low scholarity levels are more liable to have premature babies.

One of every four people has vitamin A deficiency.

The Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Observatory on Infancy says that through April 30 of this year there had been 77 infant deaths due to infant malnutrition (children under 5 years of age). 

According to Ernesto Durán Strauch, Pediatrics Professor and Director of the Observatory, 18 cases were reported in the Province of La Guajira, 7 in Meta and 5 in Magdalena and Vichada, representing an increase in comparison to the same period of the preceding year. 

“An indigenous infant has 24 times more probability of dying in Colombia; this is also linked to the low scholarity level of the mothers,” said Durán. 

Death due to malnutrition is not the only concern; personal and family negative impacts as well as adolescent disease, cognitive issues and different types of pathologies also leave permanent sequelae. 

“9.2% of the mothers give birth to underweight babies, 4% are premature and the remaining had intrauterine growth issues. Many of these cases are due to maternal malnutrition,” said the expert. 

In face of this Dr. Patricia Heredia Vargas, Subdirector of Nutrition, Food and Beverages of the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection said that 57% of the pregnant women in Colombia suffer from anemia due to an iron deficiency; therefore 30.40% of the infants between 12 and 23 months of age also suffer from this deficiency. 

According to Ministry reports maternal and perinatal morbimortality statistics in Colombia show there are great challenges for maternal and infant healthcare, especially in the most vulnerable population. 

“Micronutrient deficiency, also known as hidden hunger is considered another form of malnutrition. 60% of infants between six months to a year of age suffer from anemia and in children under five the percentage is 27.7,” she said. 

Many factors such as social and economic conditions as well as access to healthcare influence infant low weight at birth. Therefore the health sector is establishing strategies to attack malnutrition, for instance, promoting lactation up to 24 months, which is a challenge considering most mothers lactate only up to 6 months. 

Furthermore one out of every four people has vitamin A deficiency and 43% of the population has low zinc levels which is essential to strengthen the immune system. 

“The situation is worse in certain regions of the country with greater prevalence of low-income families, especially in child size lagging which is very much linked to poverty. There are Provinces more critical than others, such is the case of the Provinces of Meta and Amazonas,” she said. 

Although estimates say that only 0.9% of the children in Colombia suffer from acute malnutrition, according to figures of the National Administrative Department of Statistics, this can represent close to 45,000 children. 

The Ministry of Health has carried out a follow-up on malnutrition deaths and although there are different causes, intensive care management needs to be adequate as many times care is inappropriate and children die prematurely. 

In face of this scenario it is recommendable that women have prenatal control in order to identify risks and plan for their control with the purpose of having an proper pregnancy for an optimal birth without leaving physical or psychic consequences to the mother or newborn.

(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 75

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