Early child growth: how do nutrition and infection interact?

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March 5, 2013 by WASHplus

Early child growth: how do nutrition and infection interact? A&T Technical Brief Issue 3, June 2011.

Summary of main points
1. Infections are very common in the first 2 years of a child’s life.
2. Even when there are no obvious symptoms, physiological conditions associated with infections can impair
growth by:
• Suppressing appetite
• Impairing absorption of nutrients and increasing nutrient losses
• Diverting nutrients away from growth
3. There is little direct evidence that nutrition interventions are less effective when infection is common. Further research is needed.
4. Four intervention trials showed that the negative effects of diarrhea on growth can be reduced or eliminated by improved nutrition.
5. Interventions that combine improved nutrition with prevention and control of infections are likely to be most effective for enhancing child growth and development.

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