Issue of July 9, 2017
     
NEWS
Benguet
Kalinga
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

2017
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Healthy moms key to having healthy baby
by Danna De Guzman

Expectant mothers must observe proper diet and nutrition during pregnancy to prevent their babies from being born malnourished or stunted, an official of the Department of Health-Cordillera said.

Nutritionist and dietician Candice Willy described as alarming the stunting cases in the region, which is rated at 12.66 percent. Any figure on malnutrition that is beyond 10 percent needs preferential attention from concerned agencies.

Willy defined stunting, or being stunted, as a case of malnutrition where children are undernourished because their height is short for their age.

“It is an irreversible condition. Babies born stunted cannot be cured, so prevention during pregnancy must be done,” she said.

Willy said stunting is caused by poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of the infant or from the beginning of pregnancy until the infant is two years old. Poor maternal nutrition, lack of breastfeeding, and late introduction of complementary food to infants are considered as inadequate care.

The World Health Organization reported that below normal height-for-age ration affects the child’s cognitive and physical health. Also, if the stunted child grows to be overweight in the future, he or she may start to develop chronic illnesses.

Willy advised that mothers should already have a proper and balanced diet even before she starts carrying her child.

During pregnancy, the mother should eat food high in folate and low in salt, which is composed of green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fruits. The mother must strictly observe variety, balance, and moderation in diet. Light stretching is also a good exercise for pregnant women.

While breastfeeding is advisable until the infant is six months old. Semi-solid or complementary food must be given six months onwards and can be composed of lugaw with mashed root crops or tiny pieces of fish, meat, or chicken for added protein. Processed baby foods are discouraged for these may contain sodium, which may affect the kidney of the infant, Willy said.

The region currently has increased cases of stunting among infants under five years old with Apayao and Mountain Province having the most number of cases where two out of 10 infants under five years old are stunted, based on the latest 2016 DOH-CAR Operation Timbang.


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