The fight against malnutrition has been ongoing – the World Health Organization has global targets to reduce the number of children under 5 who are stunted by 40% and reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5% by 2025. Yet, global malnutrition rates remain too high.
Around the world, 149 million children under 5 are stunted while 45 million are wasted. Contributors to pediatric undernutrition include not getting enough food or the right kinds of food, picky eating habits, feeding difficulties or underlying chronic diseases. Yet, if given a nurturing environment, free from illness, all children are born with the ability to reach their full growth potential, regardless of their geographic location or culture.
“Early identification of malnutrition and intervening quickly for children found to be at risk could have a profound impact on the global fight against malnutrition,” says Karyn Wulf, MD, MPH, pediatric medical director at Abbott. “This is why Abbott makes it a priority to provide tools and information to healthcare professionals, caregivers and parents so they can spot the signs of malnutrition and take action.”
Keeping A Close Eye on Children’s Growth
Healthcare professionals can identify children at risk of malnutrition by evaluating their nutritional intake and assessing their growth through anthropometric (e.g., height, weight, and mid-uppper arm circumference) biochemical (e.g., electrolyte levels or inflammatory markers) and clinical observations (e.g., vital signs or physical exam).
“There are many tools available to help clinicians determine which children need to be further assessed for malnutrition risk,” says Wulf. “The important thing is to raise awareness that all children should be assessed for risk factors and monitored for their growth on an on-going basis.”