What happens to you when you’re hungry? The first thing on your mind is to eat something so that you can concentrate on other tasks. Have you ever thought about what could happen if you don’t have access to enough food to fill your stomach? Millions of poor people face this same challenge on a daily basis. To help solve this, feed the hungry organizations, charities and governments are doing their best to combat hunger and malnutrition in the poorest regions of the world.
How malnutrition affects the physiological development of children
Hunger and malnutrition can have a devastating effect on growing children. Each child needs a basic amount of calories and other nutrients to grow normally. When this is not available, it affects the child’s physical and mental growth. When this happens, it eventually affects the individual’s capacity to work and learn vocational skills. Many of the malnourished people eventually turn to low-skilled jobs to make ends meet and get stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition for generations.
Why pregnant women should not go hungry
Pregnant women and young children can be affected the most by hunger and malnutrition. According to studies, the first 1,000 days of life, from the time the child is conceived to his second birthday, are crucial for the mental, physical and emotional development of the child. In fact, the brain starts developing just after 18 days of conception. By the time the child sees his second birthday, the brain develops quickly and affects the child’s attention span, multitasking abilities, learning, memory, and other crucial functions.
It is, therefore, extremely important for pregnant women to have a diet rich in calories and macronutrients. If there is malnutrition during pregnancy, it can have a devastating effect on the unborn child- causing irreversible damage to the brain’s development. This hampers the child’s progress at school and eventually prohibits the child from a bright future.
Unfortunately, in many cultures, the men get the lion’s share of food while the women have to make do with whatever is left after the men and children are fed. Undernourishment during pregnancy can adversely affect both the mother and child. If not addressed, there could be complications like anemia, premature delivery, hypertension, or even maternal death. Even if the pregnancy progresses, undernourishment during pregnancy could mean the child’s growth is stunted which can adversely affect the child’s growth and development into a healthy adult.
How we can help these vulnerable pregnant women
To help people in need, charities like the Catholic Connect Foundation are working with local dioceses to get necessary nutritious food items for pregnant women and young children. The local Catholic priests and charity workers are doing workshops and running awareness programs to ensure pregnant women and young children get the nutrition they deserve, even if it means distributing food aid to them regularly.
Hopefully, with the tireless efforts of our priests and partner organizations, we can reach out and help as many pregnant women and malnourished children as possible, so that they can have a chance toward a better, healthier future. When they are well-fed, pregnant women can ensure the well-being for their children and work better to stand on their own feet.