Nutrition-development link favoured

Malnutrition should not be treated as an isolated issue; an integrated approach to the problem, which includes the inter-generational issue, should be used to tackle it. This was one of the suggestions that were proposed during a State-level consultation meeting on “Proactive monitoring systems for child rights in Karnataka” here on Wednesday by the Samajika Parivarthana Janandonala.

M.S. Tara, Director of the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development, made the comments while talking about “Strengthening monitoring systems to address malnutrition in Karnataka'.

Favouring the idea of introducing the link between nutrition and development to the public, she said this way, the issue of malnutrition will become more visible, as Karnataka had displayed a regressive trend when it came to malnutrition-related deaths. Throwing light on the link between nutrition and development of the child, Dr. Tara said that children with low birth weight (26 per cent in Karnataka) have an intelligence quotient (IQ) five points lower than normal.

“It has been observed that babies that have been breastfed have IQ which is eight points higher. Those that have iodine deficiency disorder have a loss of 10 to 15 IQ points (Only 49 per cent of the population in the State consumes iodised salt),” she explained. She added that only 37 per cent babies are breastfed exclusively.

With reference to anaemia, she said that 74 per cent children and 52 per cent of pregnant mothers are anaemic in the State. Explaining why iron deficiency spells doom for the growth of children, she said that cognitive development is affected by it causing a deficit of nine IQ points.

As another change that could be brought about in the system, Dr. Tara said that ICDS, which was largely seen as a supplementary nutrition programme, should be advocated adequately along with other related issues such as immunisation and water. The community should be in a position to demand the service, she said.