10 Characteristics of Stunting that Must Be Taken Note of

Stunting or chronic malnutrition in children is a global health issue that remains a major concern in various countries, including Indonesia. Stunting is a condition where a child does not receive sufficient nutrition during their growth and development.

As a result, the physical and cognitive growth of children is impaired, which is not only noticeable during childhood but also into adulthood. As a global health problem, stunting receives serious attention due to its impact on the health of children in the present and future. Furthermore, stunting also has negative implications for the quality of human resources in the future.

Definition of Stunting According to WHO and the Ministry of Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) of Indonesia, stunting is a condition that occurs in children when their height is shorter than the standard for their age. Stunting can occur when a child does not receive sufficient nutrition, especially during the first 1000 days of their life (from conception or early pregnancy until the age of two).

Other factors that can contribute to stunting are recurrent infections, poor sanitation, and unclean water. Stunting is also a condition of inadequate nutrition in children that can affect their brain growth and development.

10 Characteristics of Stunting that Must Be Aware of

Stunting refers to a type of nutritional deficiency that affects linear growth or the height of a child. The characteristics of stunting are as follows:

1. Short stature

Based on the WHO growth chart, children who experience stunting have a shorter height compared to their peers, falling below two or three standard deviations from the median height-for-age. This is the most easily detectable characteristic of stunting.

2. Low muscle and fat reserves

Another characteristic of stunting is low muscle and fat reserves. Children with stunting have low muscle and fat reserves, making them more vulnerable to infections and other health issues.

3. Slow motor development

Children with stunting may experience delayed and poor motor development. They may have limited fine motor skills such as grasping or holding objects.

4. Slow cognitive development

Children with stunting typically experience delayed cognitive development, limiting their ability to learn, reason, and communicate. They may also struggle with memory and concentration.

5. Weak immune system

Children with stunting have a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to infections and other health disorders. Their response to vaccines is also reduced.

6. Lack of Energy

Children who experience stunting tend to have lower energy levels and are not as active as their peers. They also easily become tired and struggle to keep up with other children.

7. Decreased Appetite

Children who experience stunting often have a decreased appetite, which can further contribute to the nutritional deficiencies they experience and their overall growth and development. Additionally, they may have difficulty digesting food or absorbing nutrients.

8. Irritability and Easy Anger

Children who experience stunting may exhibit irritability and easily become angry due to poor nutrition and other health issues. Difficulty sleeping and frequent awakenings during the night can also be among the characteristics.

9. Delayed Speech Development

Children who experience stunting may experience delays in developing their speech abilities and have difficulty communicating. They also struggle to understand and follow instructions.

10. Increased Risk of Developmental Disorders

Lastly, continuous growth impairment is one of the key features of stunting that needs to be monitored closely. Children who experience stunting are at an increased risk of developmental disorders, including cognitive, motor, and socio-emotional impairments. They may also struggle with learning and have difficulty keeping up with their peers in school.

When Can a Child Be Considered Stunted?

Stunting is a condition determined by the child's shorter height compared to the ideal height for their age. Stunting begins in the womb and its effects continue for at least the first two years of a child's life. The period from conception to the child's second birthday is considered the most critical window for intervention. This period is known as the first 1000 days, and the interventions carried out during this time can reduce the negative impact of stunting.

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