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Survey: 2 million children at risk of stunting

Nearly two million children below the age of five years are at risk of not achieving their full body growth as a result of chronic nutritional deficiency, a survey has shown.

The Kenya Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2014 reflected an underweight rate of 16.9 per cent among children who do not get a balanced diets during the first 100 days, which leads to cognitive and physical damage.

Findings showed that chances of such children recovering decreased after they reached two years.

Releasing the data at Bamba Primary School in Kilifi during the launch of a maternal and child nutrition programme yesterday, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist Sicily Matu said one out of four children under the age of five is stunted due to inadequate feeding.

West Pokot

Ms Matu said the situation was worse in Kilifi, where one out three children are underweight and stunted due to chronic nutritional deficiency.

The nutritionist noted thousands of children in the county and nearly two million in the country would not achieve their full body growth. According to the nutritionist, West Pokot was leading with high cases of children suffering from malnutrition, followed by Kitui and Kilifi.

She further noted that women who were stunted when young are more likely to deliver underweight infants, thus perpetuating malnutrition to the next generation.

The nutritionist said children living in arid and semi arid counties like Kilifi and North Eastern among others, were at the highest risk of malnutrition. She said however that there was a ray of hope as the Government, counties and other stakeholders in the health sector had pooled resources to fight malnutrition. She added that the European Union had funded the maternal and child nutrition programme in the nine most affected counties.

The nutritionist, who was accompanied by Kilifi Health Executive Rachael Musyoki and Deputy Governor Kenneth Kamto, said she was optimistic the high levels of malnutrition would be reduced.

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