A presentation of research from around the world showing that good nutrition is critical in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
The period consisting of pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life is when the human brain develops the most. In 2008, world leaders acknowledged the importance of this period and initiated several projects, including Scaling Up Nutrition, to assist low-income families around the world. Thurow (The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, 2012, etc.), a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, follows several women—in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and the United States—through pregnancy, childbirth, and the child’s second birthday to see how they have responded to these efforts. Using interviews with the women and their families, the author gives an intimate look at the struggles many women face. They must fight against old customs that are leery of these new programs, contend with discrimination against women and female babies, and battle daily with a lack of sufficient money to purchase the food items they aren’t able to grow themselves. Poverty, lack of training, and prejudice are at the heart of the world’s malnutrition problems. Growing evidence shows that when these issues are addressed properly, children and mothers have far better survival rates. Thurow provides just enough grim facts on infant and mother mortality, the scarcity of food, sanitary conditions for birthing, and the general plight of impoverished families to garner sympathy without being melodramatic, and he also shows how women and children thrive under the right conditions. In today’s global society, the children of the world need a voice. Thurow has spoken and made the issue clear: children everywhere need better food and water if they are going to grow into healthy adults.
In-depth research and personal stories bring the issue of malnutrition in women and children to the forefront and provide evidence that, with proper support, children can flourish.