Child Malnutrition and Mortality Fall by Half in Brazil

Nutrir, Nestlé's food program in Brazil Between 1996 and 2006, malnutrition among Brazilian children below the age of 5 dropped dramatically, according to a release from the National Demography and Health Studies on women and children released on Sunday, July 6, in Brazil.

"We could say Brazil has managed to eliminate malnutrition," said Professor Carlos Augusto Monteiro from the Public Health School of the Sao Paulo University (USP).

Malnutrition in the ten years under consideration dropped 50% helping infant mortality to fall 44%, according to the official data. According to data from the Health Ministry the mortality rate which stood at 39 per thousand live born children in 1996, in 2007 was down to 22 per thousand and currently stands at 22.1.

The goal is to bring it down to 14.4 per thousand children in 2012. It was also revealed that only 3.6% of Brazilian women have no access to prenatal consultations.

Acute malnutrition affects 1.6% of children under five, a percentage considered below the reference limit according to World Health Organization standards. However in the north of Brazil, 13.3% of the population suffered hunger during the three months before the report was done between November 06 and May 07.

According to Brazilian officials, data shows that higher schooling of mothers, increased average family income and the extension of the health and food programs which reach 45 million Brazilians are policies that have had an accumulative effect improving infant nutrition levels. However the report also shows a reduction in breast feeding periods.

But from the rest of the report a direct link can be established between the lack of education and health problems in mothers and children. An estimated 10% of Brazilian mothers have difficulties looking after themselves and the children, including access to government sponsored sanitary policies since they lack sufficient literacy.

The women who can't read vaccination instructions are one of the soft spots of the program. While 20% of born children of illiterate mothers die before reaching twelve months, mortality is virtually zero when mothers have completed 12 or more years of schooling, concludes the report.




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