1,000 Days Of A Child Life: Maternal, Child Nutrition Crucial For A Healthy Future – UNICEF

By Suzan Edeh, Bauchi

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has said that  the first 1,000 days of a child is crucial for physical development and brain growth and a woman’s nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding as well as baby’s nurturing care in the first two years is extremely important for a healthy future.

Dr Tushar Rane, the Chief of UNICEF Field  Office Bauchi stated this virtually during a two days media dialogue on the first 1,000 days of a Child life, organized by UNICEF Bauchi Field Office for participants drawn from Gombe, Taraba, Bauchi, Adamawa and  F.C.T Abuja, held at the Emerald hotel Gombe state.

According to him, the first 1,000 days of life is  the time spanning between conception and a baby’s second birthday which is an important period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established. 

He said that maternal and child nutrition and health can determine the child’s ability to grow, stressing that poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days cause irreversible damage to a child’s growing brain and body. 

“The period of rapid brain growth and maturation is 80 percent by two years and failure of growth  during this period is associated with long term consequences which includes schooling, productivity and income.

neuronal pathways are developing most rapidly in the first 1000 days, however poor children are at great risk of malnutrition in the first 1,000 days. “

“Stunting is associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment while gaps between the risk and poor in reading, language, cognitive development emerge before primary school. cognitive/linguistics delays accumulate early and last a life time, hence early life is sensitive period for brain development,” he said. 

The UNICEF Chief said that if a child is not properly breast-fed or given the proper nutrition early, a case of stunting sets in which have potential consequences, pointing out that nurturing care in early life is very important.

He said that high impact intervention during the first 1,000 days include maternal supplementation and dietary counselling, weight gain tracking, infection control and antenatal care from conception to delivery, adding that  intervention from 0-5 months of a child’s life include exclusive breast feeding, immunization, infection prevention and treatment and nurturing care.  

Speaking earlier, the Communication Officer UNICEF Field Office Bauchi, Opeyemi Olagunju said that the objective of the media dialogue is to educate journalists on the peculiar threats to a healthy first 1,000 days in the Bauchi Field Office focus states and extent of implications so that public stakeholders can rise up to the occasion in addressing the threats.

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