Causes and Characteristics of Stunting in Children
Stunting in children is often a question of parents when visiting a pediatrician. Check out the following explanation about the causes of stunting in children and their characteristics.
Stunting is a condition when a child is shorter than other children his age, or in other words, the child’s height is below the standard. The standard used as a reference is the growth curve created by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Southeast Asia, Indonesia ranks 3rd for the largest number of stunting. In 2018, although the number decreased compared to previous years, there were still 3 out of 10 Indonesian toddlers who were stunted.
Causes of Stunting in Children
Stunting is a result of a lack of nutritional intake in children in the first 1000 days of life, ie since the child is still in the womb until the child is 2 years old.
Stunting in children can be caused by problems during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or afterwards, such as the provision of MPASI which is not sufficient in nutrition.
In addition to poor nutrition, stunting can also be caused by poor environmental hygiene, so children are often exposed to infections. Poor parenting also contributes to stunting. Poor parenting is often caused by a mother who is too young, or the distance between pregnancies is too close.
The Characteristics of Children Experiencing Stunting
Stunting in children will be seen from the stature of children who are dwarfed when they reach the age of 2 years, or shorter than children of the same age. Besides being short or stunted, a stunted child also looks thin. Even though it looks short and thin, the body of the child remains proportional. But keep in mind, not all short children are called stunting, yeah.
In addition to experiencing growth disorders, stunting in children also affects their development. Children with stunting will experience a decrease in intelligence, impaired speech, and learning difficulties. As a result, children’s performance at school will be bad. The further impact of stunting is on the future of the child, where he will find it difficult to get a job as an adult.
Children with stunting also have a low immune system, making it easier to get sick, especially due to infectious diseases. In addition, children who experience stunting will be more difficult and longer to heal when sick. Stunting also has a long-term impact on children’s health. After adulthood, children will be prone to developing diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
All the characteristics of a stunted child are actually the effects of lack of nutrition, frequent illnesses, and faulty parenting in the first 1000 days of life, which can actually be prevented but cannot be repeated.
Preventing Stunting in Children
As explained earlier, growth and development disorders due to stunting are permanent, which means that it cannot be overcome. However, this condition is very preventable, especially during the first 1000 days of a child’s life, in the following ways:
Meet the adequacy of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding, especially iron, folic acid, and iodine.
Initiate early breastfeeding and provide exclusive breastfeeding.
Complete knowledge about good MPASI and apply it.
Make a habit of living clean and healthy by washing hands with soap and water, especially before preparing food and after defecating or urinating, drinking water that is guaranteed to be clean, and washing dishes with dish washing soap. All this is done to prevent children from getting infectious diseases.
Mother and Father also need to have their child checked at the Posyandu or Puskesmas routinely, so that their weight gain and height can be monitored, and then compared with the growth curve of WHO. This examination is recommended to be done every month for children under 1 year, and every 3 months for children aged 1-2 years.
In addition to monitoring height and weight, routine checks are also needed to evaluate the possibility of infection in children, such as intestinal worms, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, and recurrent diarrhea.
Although stunting is a condition of growth disruption that cannot be corrected, early treatment is still important to be done so that the child’s condition is not getting worse. Consult immediately with your pediatrician if your child looks shorter than children his age.