Iraq war ’stunting’ children’s growth

Monday, March 29, 2010

LONDON - Children born in most violent areas of Iraq have been observed to be shorter than their counterparts from safer regions, say British researchers.

Boffins at Royal Holloway, University of London, examined the data from the country’s central statistics office and found “stunting” was a serious concern among those born in provinces in the south and centre of Iraq which experienced the worst violence.

Principal investigator Gabriela Guerrero-Serdan, from the department of economics, discovered under-fives from these areas were on average 0.8cm (0.3in) shorter, implying the conflict was taking a toll on children’s health.

The study further linked the short height of these children to poor quality diet and sanitation.The short height of these children is likely to reflect poor quality food intake, and also more disease and diarrhoea. Power failures which affected water supplies and refrigeration are likely to have added to the problem.” The BBC quoted the author as saying.

“Early life development and growth are connected and important, because children who are well-nourished are more likely to be healthy, productive and able to learn in the future,” she added.

Professor Peter Emery, head of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, further explained: “Stunting does not necessarily mean that the quality of the diet is low in terms of protein content. It is more likely to indicate chronically low quantity of food, together with poor sanitation and access to healthcare.”

The research was due to be presented at the Royal Economic Society annual conference. (ANI)

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