The following first appeared on the Huffington Post.
I am a lucky mom.
I received quality prenatal care and gave birth in a state-of-the-art hospital. My kids received essential nutrition from the moment they were born through their early years, giving them a better chance to fight off disease and perform well in school. Today, they are on a path to reaching their full potential.
Many moms in developing countries such as Ethiopia, Niger and India aren’t so lucky.
In fact, children in an alarming number of countries do not get the nutrition they need from pregnancy to their second birthday–the critical window for ensuring healthy growth and development–according to Save the Children’s 13th annual State of the World’s Mothers report. The report shines a spotlight on the lifelong, if not deadly, impact chronic malnutrition has on millions of children across the globe.
Chronic malnutrition is a hidden crisis because it often goes unnoticed. Unlike the visibly emaciated children we see impacted by famine, children suffering from chronic malnutrition are not as easily identified — although the lack of nutrition is slowly stifling their physical and mental development.
At least 170 million children — more than twice the number of children living in the U.S — are robbed of a healthy and prosperous future due to the lack of proper nourishment. Tragically, malnutrition also is an underlying cause of child deaths. In fact, in this year alone, more than 7 million children will not reach their fifth birthday. One-third of these deaths can be attributed, in part, to malnutrition.
The ripple effect of this crisis impacts us all no matter what corner of the world we live in. Globally, the direct cost of malnutrition is estimated at $20 to $30 billion per year.
Enter the “Lifesaving Six” — a set of affordable nutrition interventions that often cost less than $20 per child to deliver. These lifesaving solutions include breastfeeding, complementary feeding, zinc, iron folate, vitamin A and good hygiene. While they are a subset of a larger package of nutritional interventions, Save the Children has identified the “Lifesaving Six” as solutions vetted by nutrition experts that are readily available and have the greatest potential to save lives now. In addition, we know