The Importance of Nutrition during the Infancy and Toddler-hood Period Research will show how children metabolize the nourishment they receive assist their minds reach their full potential later in life. A variation of factors affects how our brains develop from an early age with nutrition and diet being very important. Good nutrition results in healthy physical and mental condition. Consequently, proper nutrition plays a significant role in children’s health and growth, whereas malnutrition can severely hamper a child’s physical and mental development.
In the U. S. 200,000 infants born each year with a condition known as “Failure to Thrive” is a term used by pediatricians to describe this condition in which a child has an abnormally low weight for his or her age or has an abnormally low weight gain over time. A main question is whether FTT is a disorder that blocks or interferes with the absorption of nutrients or if it is caused by lower than normal food intake. Parents who make sure their infants are well-nourished benefit their infants emotionally as well as physically.
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The act of feeding a child is an important emotional interaction between the infant and his or her parent. Especially, when mothers breast-feed their babies, they bond with their child and foster their connection. At the same time, breast milk within the first year reduces the risk of postneonatal death and prevents illnesses, such as diarrhea, respiratory, ear and urinary tract infections. Mothers who breast-feed their babies also benefit their child’s neurological development and cardiovascular health (Papalia, Olds, Feldman, 2008, p. 148).
Proper nutrition in the neonatal stage can greatly contribute to the child’s development and physical condition. Between the ages of 6 and 12 months it is important that parents feed their children iron-enriched solid foods, such as cereal. Before this age, breast milk or infant formula provides all the nutrition babies require. But by 6 months breastfed babies need additional iron and all babies (breastfed and formula-fed) benefit from exposure to more flavors, textures and eating skills. Babies who eat a variety of foods rarely need vitamin drops or supplements.
While some parents may start solid foods too soon, other parents may wait too long to introduce new foods and new textures. Around the 6 month mark is the beginning of a critical or sensitive period of development in relation to eating. Unfortunately, malnutrition in early life is widespread; it occurs in developing countries, as well as in more prosperous areas of the world, such as low-income communities. Children who are poorly nourished can suffer irreversible damage or even die. In fact, more than half the childhood deaths in developing countries are related to malnutrition.
Generally, an undernourished child has an inadequate intake of protein, calories, iron and other nutrients which are necessary to keeps the body healthy and builds muscle. If the body does not receive the energy it needs in the form of food, weight loss will occur. “Children with malnutrition have inadequate fat stores and very little muscle. Their bones are prominent and they often have disproportionately large abdomens. Brain development can be impaired, and these children have a high incidence of disease because their bodies cannot fight infection.
For this reason, malnutrition contributes to the high death rate among children in developing countries. ” (Retrieved on February 16th, 2009 from http://jama. ama-assn. org/cgi/content/full/292/5/648) Researchers who found that poor nutrition negatively effects a child’s brain development receive support from a new University of Southern California study. Apparently, malnutrition in the first few years of life leads to antisocial and aggressive behavior throughout childhood and late adolescence.
For 14 years, researchers followed the nutritional, behavioral and cognitive development of more than 1,000 children who lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. They assessed the children’s nutrition at age 3 and also tested their intelligence level and cognitive ability. Social workers visited their homes to come up with a so-called adversity score that summarized factors such as the income, occupation, health, age and education levels of their parents and their overall living conditions.
Over time, a link became evident between malnourishment and antisocial or aggressive behavior (Retrieved on February 16th, 2009 from http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2004/11/041117005027. htm). The importance of nutrition affects various aspects of a child’s development which is dynamic. As a result, Biology is not destiny, and the DNA inherited from the biological parents and nutrition always work in concert Therefore, it is important that parents adequately feed their children the nutrients they need in order to grow strong and healthy, and reduce the risk of ife-threatening diseases as well as lifelong damages to the brain. References Papalia D. , Old S. , & Feldman R. D. (2008) A child’s world: Infancy through adolescence. 11th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill. Sarnoff A. Mednick. “Malnutrition In Early Years Leads To Low IQ And Later Antisocial Behavior, USC Study Finds. ” . November 2004. Torpy, M. Janet. “Malnutrition in Children. ” . August, 2004.