First 1,000 Days of Life
Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from a woman’s pregnancy to that child’s second birthday – can lock them into a lifetime of health and social challenges that are devastating and irreversible. During this critical period, if children don’t get the vital ingredients they need to grow their bodies and develop their brains, they are not only more likely to get sick, and die, from diseases throughout their whole life, but they will also earn less than their peers when they enter adulthood.
Key elements of 1000 days includes:
- Pregnancy = 270 days
- 0-6 months = 182 days
- 6-12 months = 183 days
- 12 months – 24 months = 365 days
270 + 182 + 183 + 365 = 1000 days
There can be few greater injustices than a child whose potential and future is robbed off them before their life has barely started, condemned to a life less healthy and less productive than it could have been. Wasting the potential of one in four children. Stunting the economic growth of nations.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life also provide us with an incredible window of opportunity to help ensure their health is protected and that their potential is maximized.
Small steps for both mother and child – proven to be effective – can make a big difference collectively. These include promoting early and exclusive breastfeeding; educating mothers about health and diverse diets for their babies and good hygiene practices; providing supplements for women during pregnancy and for infants after birth; encouraging farmers to produce diverse and nutritious foods; and legislating the production of fortified staple foods.
These interventions can reshape a child’s future, giving them the best chance to become healthy and productive members of society. But if we scaled them up, so that we reach every would-be mother and every child, we can progress communities and rewrite the future of nations. There are few, if any, better investments that a country can make.
For every dollar invested in nutrition, a country can expect to get $16 back in increased productivity.