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Better Nutrition Could Save Millions of Kids-Study



Thu Jun 17, 2004 08:02 AM ET Souce: Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Malnutrition is to blame for more than half of allthe deaths of children around the world -- including deaths caused bydiarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and measles, researchers said on Thursday.

Poor nourishment leaves children underweight and weakened and vulnerable toinfections that do not have to be fatal, the team at the World HealthOrganization and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found.

They estimated that feeding all children worldwide an adequate diet wouldprevent about 1 million deaths a year from pneumonia, 800,000 fromdiarrhea, 500,000 from malaria, and 250,000 from measles.

"Malnutrition does not have to be severe to have a significant impact onchild health and survival," said Laura Caulfield, an associate professorwith the Bloomberg School's Center for Human Nutrition who led the study.

"Our analysis shows that even children who were small, but whose weightwould not classify them as malnourished, were twice as likely to die aschildren in our reference group."

Her group analyzed the data from 10 studies of childhood deaths around theworld, and used complex formulas to extrapolate the effect of weight on thelikelihood of death.

They estimate that 52.5 percent of all deaths in young children wereattributable to undernourishment, with nearly 45 percent of measles deathsand more than 60 percent of deaths from diarrhea associated with low weightand poor nutrition.

"These findings underscore the need to make the improvement of thenutritional status of children a priority," they wrote in their study,published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.



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