Give the first 1000 days of their life your best shot!

This was one thing I took serious interest in while the Nutrition Society of Nigeria’s 44th Conference tagged “Adequate Nutrition: A Panacea for Sustainable Education and National Development” was going on. I noticed that most of the speakers had something to say about it.

This goes to the mothers, what you eat and do in the first 1000 days makes a difference to your baby’s future. Research shows that what you feed your baby in their first 1000 days of life can affect their health, cognitive ability and physical development for life.

“This short time frame offers a unique window of opportunity to shape healthier future by having a profound impact on the child’s ability to grow and develop and improve educational achievement.” – Ita Saul, Paediatric Dietitian.

This 1000 days of life starts from conception to two years of the child’s life. The right nutrition during this 1,000 day window can have a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty. It can also shape a society’s long-term health, stability and prosperity.

Today, undernutrition is still a leading cause of death of young children throughout the world. For infants and children under the age of two, the consequences of undernutrition are particularly severe, often irreversible, and reach far into the future.

During pregnancy, undernutrition can have a devastating impact on the healthy growth and development of a child.
Babies who are malnourished in the womb have a higher risk of dying in infancy and are more likely to face lifelong cognitive and physical deficits and chronic health problems. For children under the age of two, undernutrition can be life-threatening. It can weaken a child’s immune system and make him or her more susceptible to dying from common illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

In 1,000 days you can change the future

By focusing on improving nutrition for mothers and children in the 1,000 day window, we can help ensure a child can live a healthy and productive life.
Investing in better nutrition in the 1,000 day window can also help families, communities and countries break the cycle of poverty.

Evidence shows that the right nutrition during the 1,000 day window can:

  • save more than one million lives each year;
  • significantly reduce the human and economic burden of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.
  • Reduce the risk for developing various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and other chronic conditions later in life;
  • improve an individual’s educational achievement and earning potential; and,
  • increase a country’s GDP by at least 2-3 percent annually.

Solutions to improve nutrition in the 1,000 day window are readily available, affordable and cost-effective. They include:

Ensuring that mothers and young children get the necessary vitamins and minerals they need via nutrient supplementation programmes and following them through i.e. ensuring it gets to the target group. Mothers should be taught the importance of adhering to good nutritional practices, including early breastfeeding initiation, and breast feeding for six months exclusively via scheduled nutrition seminars and classes. Appropriate and complementary healthy foods should be given to infants after 6 months of breastfeeding exclusively.
Treating malnourished children with special, therapeutic foods.
Taking all necessary vaccines and food supplements like vitamin capsules.

Children are the futures of tomorrow, give their first 1000 days your best shot!