Malnutrition and Child Mortality: Cornell Nutrition Research Advocates Policies to Prevent the Deaths of Millions of Children in Developing Nations Each Year

By Lang, Susan S. | Human Ecology, August 2003 | Go to article overview

Malnutrition and Child Mortality: Cornell Nutrition Research Advocates Policies to Prevent the Deaths of Millions of Children in Developing Nations Each Year


Lang, Susan S., Human Ecology


ABOUT 90 PERCENT of child deaths worldwide occur in just 42 countries--and about one-fourth of these deaths occur before age 5 in the poorest countries, such as Angola and Niger.

However, 8 million of the 11 million childhood deaths worldwide each year could easily be prevented, according to a Cornell University expert writing in the authoritative medical journal The Lancet (June 28 issue). Almost 60 percent of deaths of children under five in the developing world are due to malnutrition and its interactive effects on preventable diseases. "We know how to prevent these deaths--we have the biological knowledge and tools to stop this public health travesty, but we are not yet doing it," says Jean-Pierre Habicht, professor of epidemiology and nutritional sciences. Habicht is a member of the Bellagio Child Survival Study Group, comprising leading child-health researchers, that has authored a series of five articles in The Lancet on how to prevent the global toll on young children.

"Malnourished children are up to 12 times more likely to die from easily preventable and treatable diseases than are well-nourished children," says Habicht. "'The first step in preventing child death is to make sure that every child is well nourished, which is both scientifically and economically feasible. …

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