London, Jan 17 : About one-third cases of stunting, and deaths by up to a quarter among under 3s in poor countries could be averted with existing interventions, say researchers.
The study, conducted by Professor Simon Cousens, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and team, stated that stunting is difficult to reverse after the age of three.
Therefore, it is essential to focus on interventions in pregnancy, and in young children, especially those aged under two.
The existing interventions include - strategies to promote improved complementary feeding, micronutrient interventions, and interventions aimed at reducing the burden of disease.
In addition to reducing stunting, nutrition interventions, including breastfeeding promotion, could prevent about one quarter of child deaths in the poor countries.
"Much can be done now to improve the nutritional status of mothers and children with simple, evidence-based interventions," Lancet quoted Cousens, as saying.
"Although there are intergenerational effects of undernutrition which will take many years to eliminate, promotion of breastfeeding, improved complementary feeding practices, interventions to improve micronutrient status and interventions to reduce the burden of child disease can all have an immediate impact on child nutrition.
"Attention to the continuum of maternal and child undernutrition is essential to attainment of several of the Millennium Development Goals and must be prioritised globally and within countries. Countries with a high prevalence of undernutrition must decide which interventions should be given the highest priority, and ensure their effective implementation at high coverage to achieve the greatest benefit," he added.
The study is published in Lancet Maternal and Child Undernutrition Series.