Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival, health and development. Well-nourished children are better able to grow and learn, to participate in and contribute to their communities, and to be resilient in the face of disease, disasters, and other global crises.
But for the millions of children suffering from malnutrition, the reality is stark. Every year, around 3 million children die due to undernutrition. For millions more, chronic malnutrition will result in stunting – an irreversible condition that literally stunts the physical and cognitive growth of children.
The good news is that we can change this.
The first 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday offer an extraordinary window of opportunity for preventing undernutrition and its consequences. UNICEF targets its actions to this critical period, using widely accepted and evidence-based interventions, including support for breastfeeding, appropriate complementary foods for infants over 6 months, and micronutrient supplementation for women and children to address deficiencies. These investments in nutrition – particularly in the earliest years of life – can yield dramatic results for children, their families, and communities.