Optimal Infant and Young Child Nutrition and Development

High-quality nutrition in a child’s early years is essential for healthy growth and development and achieving a strong start in life.

High-quality nutrition in a child’s early years is essential for healthy growth and development and achieving a strong start in life. Yet around the world, 149 million children under five are stunted as a result of malnutrition. 45.4 million were estimated to be too thin for their height [1]. Far too many children, including millions in Asia, face a daily challenge in achieving optimal nutrition, often as a result of their families lacking sufficient knowledge, information or resources.

Source: Levels and trends in child malnutrition; UNCEF/WHO/World Bank Group Group Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates [1]

The challenge of providing optimal infant and young child nutrition is complex and multi-faceted.

Critically, mothers and caregivers need to know the facts about optimal infant and young child nutrition, so they can make informed choices to do what is best for their children, in consultation with healthcare professionals.

One of the best solutions to promote healthy growth and development is to protect and promote exclusive breastfeeding. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life. After the sixth month, when breast milk alone is not able to meet the nutritional needs of infants, it is important that parents introduce appropriate, safe and nutritious food to their children’s diets.

Countless babies around the world have thrived on infant formula, and when mothers are unable to breastfeed or choose not to, a safe and nutritious alternative is required. In this context, scientifically developed and clinically demonstrated breast-milk substitutes (BMS) are the only recognised and proven alternative to breastfeeding for infants.

We believe that every infant and young child deserves high-quality, nutritious and safe food for the best nutritional start in life.

APIYCNA’s members stand ready to share their knowledge, expertise, insights and resources with stakeholders to identify nutritional issues and to provide our input to relevant policy frameworks to ensure that as many children as possible get the best nutritional start in life.

The bottom line is this – when children do well, families thrive. That is why our industry’s products include all the essential nutrients for healthy growth and support the key areas of development in early childhood.

Useful links and resources:

Composition of Follow-Up Formula for Young Children Aged 12–36 Months – This is a review of global data on nutrient intakes of young children aged 12-36 months and on dietary intake performed by the Nutrition Association of Thailand (NAT) and the Early Nutrition Academy in 2015.

Nutrition and Health Status of Children in South East Asia – In 2009, the South East Asian Nutrition Survey (SEANUTS), was conducted to improve insight on the current nutritional status of children between the ages of six months and 12 years in selected Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Results from SEANUTS highlight how regional differences, a double burden of malnutrition and vitamin D deficiency are increasingly problematic.

Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health – The United Nations is driving the move to improve the health of women and children around the world and is making the push to build a collective resolve to ensure universal access to essential health services and proven, life-saving interventions as work is done to strengthen health systems. The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health meets this challenge head on. It sets out the key areas where action is urgently required to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service delivery.

Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding – The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding aims to revitalize efforts to promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding. It builds upon past initiatives, in particular the Innocenti Declaration and the Baby-friendly Hospital initiative and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances, such as infants of mothers living with HIV, low-birth-weight infants and infants in emergency situations.

Scaling Up Nutrition – Scaling Up Nutrition, or SUN, is a unique Movement founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. It unites people—from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers—in a collective effort to improve nutrition.

1,000 Days – 1,000 Days is an advocacy hub that champions new investment and partnerships to improve nutrition during the critical 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s 2nd birthday as a way to achieve long-term progress in global health and development.

Driving commitment for nutrition within the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition: policy brief – The Nutrition Decade presents an unprecedented opportunity for accelerating country-led actions to end hunger, eliminate all forms of malnutrition, and ensure access to healthier and more sustainable diets for all people everywhere. Achieving on-the-ground results will require a strong and sustained commitment from many people and organizations working within countries. Such commitment does not come easily: it must be created, strengthened and sustained over time.