9 of 10 Indian children under 2 yrs deprived of adequate diet

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New Delhi: Around 90 per cent of children under two years in the country are struggling to get proper diet crucial for their development, said a leading NGO said on World Health Day today.

Nine out of 10 children in the age group of 6 to 23 months do not receive adequate diet, CRY said, quoting the figures of the recent data released by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) (2015-16). Deprived of a healthy start, millions of these children will bear the impact of this under-nutrition not just in early years of their childhood but throughout their lives.

“Illness in children and lack of adequate and appropriate nutrition is a vicious cycle which needs constant attention through preventive as well as promotive approaches,” said Komal Ganotra, Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy for CRY (Child Rights and You).

Four out of the five worst performing states are from north India. While Rajasthan is at the bottom, where a measly three per cent children in the age group receive adequate diet, the figure stands at 5 per cent in Uttar Pradesh. Only six per cent of children receive proper nutrition in the national capital. Even Tamil Nadu which has the highest percentage of children receiving adequate nutrition, the number does not cross 31 per cent.

“Given the dismal state of maternal care in our country, it is likely that the impact on the health of the child started right from their mothers’ womb, given the direct
linkage,” Ganotra said.Fifty per cent of the pregnant women (15-49 years) were
found to be anaemic according to the NFHS-4 and only 21 percent received complete antenatal care. Poor health of mothers affects the physical and cognitive development of the child, rendering a very poor start to life and having lifelong implications.

“The Integrated Child Development Scheme, which addresses nutritional needs of children in an early age (under 6) and expectant mothers, has the right intent to ensure a solid foundation for children when maximum brain development occurs.”It is non-negotiable for the state to ensure adequate budget and robust implementation mechanism for greater convergence of health and nutrition services for every child in the country,” Ganotra said.

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