Friday, May 07, 2010

Early Nutrition

There was an article in the paper the other day about the effects of poverty on children in Philadelphia. As with such stories, statistics were balanced with stories, and one of the stories was about a local mother with two kids, including a three-month-old, and how their constrained financial situation spelled trouble for the little baby in particular, given the importance of nutrition in the early months.

It made me think of our little baby's early months. For those of you with children, imagine that your precious little one is apart from you for the first seven and a half months of her life. At three days old, she has spent at least one night abandoned in the cold. For the next several months, she is cared for along with nine other such babies, with almost zero physical touch and hardly much more physical nourishment. There is no bonding, and no response of comfort or concern when she cries.

Remarkably, children are resilient. And so while Jada has her delays and her issues, she looks all the world like a normal, healthy, well-adjusted little girl. There is nothing we can do to turn back the clock on those first seven and a half months of isolation and malnourishment. But we can be grateful for the chance to see her blossom since then, and mindful of what can be done for children like the three-month-old in the news story, whose nutritional deficits are likely to continue well into his childhood.
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