MALNUTRITION IN THE WORLD'S CHILDREN
Protein-Calorie malnutrition coupled with infection is the greatest killer of infants and young children and the major cause of retarded child growth and development in today world. It has been estimated that by 1968 there would be 276,000,000 child victims of serious malnutrition in 29 developing countries. Its greatest toll is during the weaning period and in children below the age of 2 years. Some of these young children will die. Others, who survive severe disease, may sustain brain damage which impairs learning, limits achievement, and condemns them to the fate of their parents, thus perpetuating a cycle which interferes with national development itself.
The occurrence of protein-calorie malnutrition is not limited to developing countries, particular ethnic groups, or tropical climates. This affliction is found in the United States, although less frequently and rarely in extreme degree when compared to developing countries. More accurate information about its prevalence in the United States will soon be available.
The causes of protein-calorie malnutrition can be described within a variety of different conceptual frameworks: political, economic, educational, socio-cultural, agricultural, industrial, and medical-nutritional. The interrelation of the size of the world population and its food supply is so vital a factor that inadequate programs of family planning increase the likelihood of malnutrition. Programs to eliminate malnutrition must be delineated within these different frameworks, and each must be brought into appropriate collaboration with the others.
Obviously, no statement of ours can cover this multiplicity of factors completely. We can speak only as pediatricians to whom any degree of malnutrition is unacceptable.
- Copyright © 1969 by the American Academy of Pediatrics