Things every mum should know about child growth and nutrition support

16:37 | 19/09/2019
What every mum wishes is her child to be strong and healthy in every way, physically, mentally, and emotionally through steady and long-term growth. Paediatrics experts share advice to help mums know what to do to help their kids grow.  

Few mothers can tell with certainty if their child is growing and developing at an adequate pace. It is common for children to have feeding difficulties as they grow which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and impact growth – and it is imperative to intervene as quickly as possible to avoid permanent health impacts.

Science-based definition of growth in children

What child growth means and how mums can help their kids to reach optimal growth and comprehensive development is not always clear to many parents. Physical growth refers to increases in height and weight and other body changes that happen as kids mature.

When it comes to childhood nutrition, it can take a lot more than simply making sure your kid eats his or her vegetables. A key indicator of childhood nutrition is not just linear growth or weight gain, but also includes organ and brain development. Nutritional limitation in any of these areas can cause long-term problems with optimal growth and development.

things every mum should know about child growth and nutrition support
Every mum wishes her child to be strong and healthy in every way

“In Vietnam, lots of parents associate growth with gaining weight. This is not the whole story. In fact, growth means the increase in both weight and height as the children mature. It also means the children have a healthy immune system, and how well they recover after illness and how active they are,” said Dr Nguyen Gia Khanh, chairman of the Vietnam Pediatric Association.

A key indicator of childhood nutrition is not just linear growth or weight gain, but also includes organ and brain development.

Normal growth is an essential manifestation of health. Parents need to make sure that the children enjoy healthy and balanced nutrition, and a good environment to reach their full potential, especially for those who are suffering from faltering growth or malnutrition. Parents can work closely with dietitians and psychologists to understand why a child is not getting the nutrition they need and develop a plan to get them back on track.

Undernutrition has long-term effects on individuals and societies including poor cognitive development, less income, recurring illness, and poor self-esteem. The consequence is largely irreversible if not corrected at the early years of life, and once stunted at early childhood, a child remains shorter than their peers and is unlikely to ever catch up fully.

“Nutrition plays a critical role in every child’s growth and development. This is an important factor in the first line, helping children to optimise their potential for development, regardless of cultural or geographical differences or genes,” said Prof Robert Murray, Department of Gastroenterology and Pediatrics, Ohio University, the US.

Golden window to boost the child’s growth

As 60 per cent of child growth in height happens in the first five years, immediate intervention in this critical window should be taken to prevent stunting, poor immunity, and poor cognitive development in the future.

Unlike common perception, the contribution of genetics on height growth from infancy to early childhood is relatively small, instead, nutrition together with environmental factors like hygiene and exercise is key.

“The first five years are considered the golden window for parents to prepare a strong foundation for the children’s future. Height growth potential is achieved 60 per cent in the first five years. Nutrition should be taken advantage of at the early stage of life to maximise the potential in the future,” said Murray.

things every mum should know about child growth and nutrition support
Professor Robert Murray

According to Prof Murray, children need support for bone growth to the maximum before the growth cartilage stops. Otherwise, once stunted at the early childhood, a child remains shorter than their peers and is unlikely to ever catch up fully.

This explains why very young children need to be supplemented with enough nutrients to support the growth of growth cartilage in the first five years of life. Besides commonly known nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and proteins, the two essential nutrients are Arginine and Vitamin K2 which have good supportive effects on major growth cartilage.

According to Yen Ling Low, director of Abbott Nutrition Research and Development Centre Asia Pacific, Arginine is an important amino acid which may play a role in height growth.

It promotes the multiplication of cells at the growth plate in bones to help bones grow longer. Research has shown stunted children had significantly lower blood levels of Arginine than normal children and lower Arginine intake is associated with slower height growth.

Meanwhile, natural vitamin K2 is an important nutrient that helps to deliver and bind calcium to bones and ultimately helps build stronger bones. Therefore, the new PediaSure is added with Arginine and natural vitamin K2 and is scientifically designed to help bones grow longer and stronger to further support catch-up growth.

PediaSure improved formula to support catch-up growth and unlock growth potential

With a deep understanding of the nutritional challenges of children in Vietnam, Abbott has recently launched an innovative childhood nutrition solution, the new PediaSure with Arginine and natural vitamin K2 to help bones grow longer and stronger to further support catch-up growth.

“Abbott has been continuously developing products that help babies and children grow, keep their bodies strong and active. PediaSure is the most clinically-proven pediatric nutrition supplement shown to enhance catch-up growth and immunity. Now, new PediaSure is upgraded with Arginine and natural vitamin K2 and is scientifically designed to further support catch-up growth in kids who need it so that more children can fulfil their growth potential,Yen Ling added.

things every mum should know about child growth and nutrition support
Yen Ling Low, director of Abbott Nutrition Research and Development Centre Asia-Pacific

Abbott first introduced PediaSure in 1988. Since then, the company continuously innovates the formula to keep up with the increased nutrition needs of children around the world. The complete, balanced nutrition formula with 37 nutrients, PediaSure has been proven to promote visible growth in height, weight, and improve immunity for children at nutritional risk.

Particularly, clinical studies have shown that children consuming PediaSure gained weight, height, and improved appetite in nine weeks of intervention; and had better nutrient adequacy and reduced number of sick days by as much as 60 per cent in 12 weeks.

The enhanced formulation of PediaSure with Arginine and natural vitamin K2 will further support longer and stronger bone growth and may help better address stunting and promote catch-up growth in early childhood.

By Huong Linh

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