oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - The time to address undernutrition in infants and young children is now : editorial

Volume 25, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



Undernutrition affects a large proportion of children in developing countries. Black et al estimated that, in 2005, 32% of all children under five years of age in developing countries were stunted and that 20% were underweight. Many factors are responsible for these figures, including maternal undernutrition, intrauterine growth restriction, lack of or inadequate breastfeeding, poor complementary infant-feeding practices beyond six months of age, and the interaction between undernutrition and recurrent infections. These authors estimated that maternal and child undernutrition was the underlying cause of 3.5 million deaths annually and 35% of the disease burden in children under the age of five years. While many countries have shown impressive reductions in under-five mortality since 2005, thus probably reducing these figures to some extent,2 undernutrition remains a major factor that is responsible for child mortality and morbidity.

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