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      The stunting syndrome in developing countries


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          Linear growth failure is the most common form of undernutrition globally. With an estimated 165 million children below 5 years of age affected, stunting has been identified as a major public health priority, and there are ambitious targets to reduce the prevalence of stunting by 40% between 2010 and 2025. We view this condition as a ‘stunting syndrome’ in which multiple pathological changes marked by linear growth retardation in early life are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, reduced physical, neurodevelopmental and economic capacity and an elevated risk of metabolic disease into adulthood. Stunting is a cyclical process because women who were themselves stunted in childhood tend to have stunted offspring, creating an intergenerational cycle of poverty and reduced human capital that is difficult to break. In this review, the mechanisms underlying linear growth failure at different ages are described, the short-, medium- and long-term consequences of stunting are discussed, and the evidence for windows of opportunity during the life cycle to target interventions at the stunting syndrome are evaluated.

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          Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries

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              Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia (syndrome X): relation to reduced fetal growth

              Two follow-up studies were carried out to determine whether lower birthweight is related to the occurrence of syndrome X-Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. The first study included 407 men born in Hertfordshire, England between 1920 and 1930 whose weights at birth and at 1 year of age had been recorded by health visitors. The second study included 266 men and women born in Preston, UK, between 1935 and 1943 whose size at birth had been measured in detail. The prevalence of syndrome X fell progressively in both men and women, from those who had the lowest to those who had the highest birthweights. Of 64-year-old men whose birthweights were 2.95 kg (6.5 pounds) or less, 22% had syndrome X. Their risk of developing syndrome X was more than 10 times greater than that of men whose birthweights were more than 4.31 kg (9.5 pounds). The association between syndrome X and low birthweight was independent of duration of gestation and of possible confounding variables including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and social class currently or at birth. In addition to low birthweight, subjects with syndrome X had small head circumference and low ponderal index at birth, and low weight and below-average dental eruption at 1 year of age. It is concluded that Type 2 diabetes and hypertension have a common origin in sub-optimal development in utero, and that syndrome X should perhaps be re-named "the small-baby syndrome".

                Author and article information

                Ann Trop Paediatr
                Ann Trop Paediatr
                Annals of Tropical Paediatrics
                Maney Publishing (Suite 1C, Joseph's Well, Hanover Walk, Leeds LS3 1AB, UK )
                April 2014
                : 34
                : 4
                : 250-265
                [1 ]Centre for Paediatrics, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London, UK
                [2 ]Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research, Harare, Zimbabwe
                [3 ]Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: A J Prendergast, Centre for Paediatrics, Blizard Institute, Newark Street, London E1 2AT, UK. Email: a.prendergast@ 123456qmul.ac.uk
                © W. S. Maney & Son Ltd 2014

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                Original Article

                stunting, malnutrition, mortality, neurodevelopment, infections


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