Stunting - Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is a disorder in child development caused by poor nutrition, repeated infections, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. A child is said to be stunted if his height for his age is more than two standard deviations below the standard for child growth.
Based on data provided by the WHO, a country can experience stunting problems if the number of cases is above 20%. Meanwhile, the number of stunting cases in Indonesia in 2022 is 24.4% of the total 23 million children under five, according to data. Therefore, stunting in Indonesia is still a problem that must be addressed immediately.
Children's posture is influenced by various factors, such as genetics, hormones, and nutritional intake. Therefore, there are children who are short in stature because their parents are also short.
However, stunting is different from children who are short in stature. Stunted children must have short bodies, but children with short stature do not necessarily experience stunting.
Causes of Stunting
Causes of stunting According to the Indonesian Pediatrician Association (IDAI), there are two causes of stunting, namely genetic and environmental factors. Stunting can be caused by genetic and hormonal factors. Besides being caused by genetics, stunting can also be caused by the environment, which is an important aspect that can still be intervened in so that stunting can be overcome. Environmental factors play a role in causing short child stature, including maternal nutritional status, feeding patterns for children, environmental hygiene, and the incidence of infection in children. However, most of the causes of stunting are caused by malnutrition. Malnutrition occurs for a long time, from the fetus in the womb until the beginning of the child's life in the first 1000 days after birth. The causes are low access to nutritious food, low intake of minerals and vitamins, and poor sources of animal protein and food.
Stunting Risk Factors
The risk of stunting in children can increase if pregnant women have the following factors:
- Maternal weight that does not increase during pregnancy
- Lack of education about stunting
- Lack of access to health services
- Living in an environment with poor sanitation and access to clean water is not easy.
- Failure to receive exclusive breastfeeding from birth
- Not getting enough nutrition
- Suffering from a disease that interferes with the absorption of nutrients
The symptoms are also seen in children who are shorter for their age; body proportions tend to be normal, but children look smaller for their age because of low body weight and stunted bone growth. If you have a chronic illness, a child with stunting can experience a number of symptoms, such as chronic cough, fever, and night sweats; the child's body turning blue when crying; shortness of breath; and clubbing fingers.
Here are ways to prevent stunting in children, as follows:
- Since pregnancy, meet nutritional requirements
Stunting prevention measures include ensuring adequate nutrition beginning with pregnancy. Health institutions recommend that pregnant women always eat nutritious and healthy foods and take supplements as directed by a doctor.
- Sufficient intake of exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to the age of 6 months
Exclusive breastfeeding can potentially reduce the chances of stunting in children thanks to the sufficient content of micro- and macronutrients. Therefore, mothers are advised to continue to breastfeed their children for 6 months. Breast milk also contains protein and colostrum, which can boost the immune system.
- Accompany ASI with MPASI.
When the baby reaches the age of 6 months and over, the mother can provide complementary foods, or MPASI. In giving MPASI, make sure the selected foods fulfill the nutrients that previously only came from breast milk. WHO recommends adding nutrients to food.
- Monitoring Children's Growth and Development
Recognizing a child who is stunted is not difficult. Children are typically shorter in stature when compared to other children at their age. It is so important for mothers to monitor their child's growth and development, especially based on the child's height and weight. Take the child periodically to the posyandu or a special clinic for children. It will be easier to find out the early symptoms of stunting and its treatment by ensuring that children get complete immunizations.
- Keep the environment clean.
It should be noted that children are very vulnerable to disease, especially if their surroundings are dirty. This factor indirectly increases stunting in children. Diarrhea is also a factor that causes health problems, which trigger diarrhea itself from exposure to dirt that enters the body.
Therefore, stunting is a chronic nutritional problem caused by a long-term lack of nutrition. To avoid stunting in children, we can create a healthy environment, fulfill healthy and nutritious intake for pregnant women and children, provide breast milk to children from birth to 6 months, and monitor the growth and development of children by consulting a child growth and development doctor so that stunting is avoided. from stunting.