Fighting Malnutrition to Promote Childhood Growth

Fighting Malnutrition to Promote Childhood Growth

Sub Heading

Abbott encourages early identification and intervention to help children reach their full potential

Main Image

Alt text

MAY. 12, 2021   3 MIN. READ

Proper nutrition is the foundation for living the best life possible. It’s especially important to help babies and children grow and reach their full potential. Approximately 60% of adult height is achieved by age 5, making nutrition essential in the early stages of life. Undernutrition in the first five years may challenge a child’s development and limit future potential in terms of academic success, physical development and overall health. 

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.”

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.

Karyn Wulf, MD, MPH, pediatric medical director at Abbott

The Power of Nutrition Intervention on Growth

When it comes to malnutrition, prompt nutrition intervention can help promote catch-up growth. It’s especially important to ensure optimal nutrition during periods of rapid growth and development, such as infancy and young childhood adolescence. 

To help achieve catch-up growth, healthcare professionals will often recommend increasing the child’s food intake and diet diversity if possible, and supplementing their diet with individual micronutrients or oral nutritional supplements (ONS). ONS promotes rapid catch-up growth and can also help children reach optimal proportional growth. Research has shown that short stature children at nutritional risk had catchup growth within 8 weeks when given nutritional counseling and daily use of oral nutritional supplements.[1]

“Good nutrition sets the foundation for healthy growth,” says Wulf. “Protein, vitamins and minerals help supply the raw materials growing bodies need to build cells, tissues, muscles and bones, or play a key role in many of the body’s processes including immunity.”

Parents should work with healthcare professionals – including registered dietitians/nutritionists – to ensure their children are getting important growth nutrients like protein, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Oral nutritional supplements – like Abbott’s PediaSure – can also help offer complete and balance nutrition, providing all macro- and micronutrients needed to achieve normal growth and development.

1. Huynh DT, et al. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015;28:623-635.

Nutrients for Your Childs Brain and Eye Development

Main Image

Alt text


Every parent wants their child to be healthy and one of the most important factors as children grow is good nutrition. For example, certain nutrients can help support strong bones, a healthy immune system, and so on. Three nutrients are especially important to support the developing brain and eyes: Lutein, Vitamin E, and DHA.

"These key nutrients work together to support brain and eye health," explains Abbott registered dietitian and pediatric nutrition scientist, Beth Reverri, PhD, RD. Fortunately for parents and young children, these nutrients are easy to get from breastmilk, foods, and formulas. 

Preparing for Your Adolescents Teenage Growth Spurt

Main Image

Alt text


Adolescence, or the teenage years, is usually a time of major growth and development. Your child may experience a drastic change in height, accompanied by puberty milestones. These adjustments can come on quick and sometimes be surprising — for both your child and you — but the best way to mitigate any confusion is to educate your child on the changes to come.

Parents can play a large role in helping children navigate the adolescent years and become young adults. Knowing the signs of a teenage growth spurt is the first step in helping your child feel safe and supported during this time of change. 




Complete, Balanced Nutrition® that helps kids grow—with protein, DHA omega-3, and vitamins & minerals. Complete, Balanced Nutrition® that helps kids grow—with protein, DHA omega-3, and vitamins & minerals.


Clinically Proven to help kids grow


Subscribe Policy

I understand and agree that the information I’ve provided will be used according to the terms of Abbott’s Privacy PolicyTerms and conditions apply.

Unless otherwise specified, all product and services names appearing in this Internet site are trademarks owned by or licensed to Abbott, its subsidiaries or affiliates. No use of any Abbott trademark, tradename, or trade dress in the site may be made without the prior written authorization of Abbott, except to identify the product or services of the company.