Why first 1,000 days are crucial in a child’s survival

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical period that determine the survival of a child.
These are the days between conception and a child’s second birthday. Every child is supposed to access the basic elements they require for a solid foundation within this period.
These days are the period of rapid brain growth and maturation: 80 percent by two years, and physical growth (height and weight) velocity is highest during first two years, said chief, UNICEF Bauchi field office, Dr Tushar Rane.
Rane, who spoke during a media dialogue on “First 1,000 Days,” organised by UNICEF Bauchi Field Office recently said cognitive/linguistic delays accumulate early and last a lifetime, adding that growth failure during this period is associated with long term consequences (inclusive of schooling, productivity and income).
Also UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Philomena Irene, said good nutrition in the first 1,000 days lays the foundation for health, development, and even prosperity of the next generation.
She said, “The 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s 2nd birthday are the most critical time for positive impact on a child’s cognitive and physical development.”
Irene added that the health and well-being of a pregnant and lactating woman is directly connected to the growth and health of her infant. “The right nutrition for the mother and for the child during this time can have a profound impact on the child’s growth and development and reduce disease risk, as well as protect the mother’s health,” she said.
According to her, undernutrition during pregnancy is a major determinant of stunting and can lead to consequences such as obesity and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in children.
Sadly, of the estimated 7.8 million pregnant women in Nigeria, 4.5 million (58%) women are anaemic.
Irene noted that the BFO States (Adamawa Bauchi Gombe) are among the highest prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy.
She said Bauchi state has the largest number of pregnant women with anaemia among BFO States.
Meanwhile, during a visit to a Primary Health Care Centre in Pantani, Gombe State, a lot of pregnant women were seen receiving antenatal care.
One of them, Hawa Abubakar, said they were educated on healthy eating. “They told us to always add vegetables to our food and eat healthy diets for our health and that of our babies.
The 25-year-old mother of two said she did exclusive breastfeeding for her two children because she was told about the benefits, adding that she has seen the benefits in her children while encouraging other women to do the same.
The PHCC secretary, Ahmed Mohammed Bello, said during antenatal, they educate the women on the importance of hospital delivery, exclusive breastfeeding, and also on nutrition; what they eat, especially in the present economic situation.
“We normally advise them to go for what they can afford that have all the nutritional benefits. Also we educate them on personal hygiene and family planning after delivery, immunisation and exclusive breastfeeding.
“We also tell them what to feed their children with after six months and we encourage them to sleep under the mosquito nets,” he said.

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