Washington, Jan 16: A collaborative study has found that kids living in households where getting three meals a day are more likely to be at developmental risk during their first three years of life, compared to similar households that are not food insecure.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2005, 16.7 percent of all households with kids younger than age six did not have the amount of food required for an active, healthy life. In kids aged less than three years, food insecurity has been associated with poor infant health and the likelihood of hospitalisation.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Centre (BMC) teamed up with researchers in Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota and Pennsylvania to study 2,010 families. The findings shown that children from food-insecure households, compared with those from food-secure households, were two thirds more likely to experience developmental risks.
It was found that household food insecurity even in the presence of appropriate weight-for age is an important risk factor for the health, development and behaviour of children less than three years of age. The researchers said that the clinical and public policy implications of this study are striking.
"Providing nutritional and developmental interventions to young children and their families is a proactive step that might decrease the need for later, more extensive interventions for developmentally or behaviourally impaired children of school age," said lead author Ruth Rose-Jacobs, ScD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at BUSM and a research scientist at BMC.
"Interventions for food insecurity and developmental risk are available and overall have been successful. Linking families to the Food Stamp Program and/or the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children are an important intervention that should be recommended if indicated by risk surveillance or developmental screening," she added.