Vulnerable populations that include infants and children are often born into lower income families; therefore, their nutritional needs are not always met in a manner that promotes optimal health and wellbeing (Zero to Three, 2012). The economic conditions under which many infants and children live limit their access to adequate food and nutrition on a regular basis, and this poses a threat to their ability to grow and thrive at a young age (Zero to Three, 2012). In addition, a lack of proper nutrition may limit their development and potential in education and throughout the life span (Zero to Three, 2012).
There have been significant challenges associated with low birthweight, which comprises approximately 8-9 percent of children in most states; this problem may increase mortality rates if there is a lack of proper nutrition for this population group (Zero to Three, 2012). As a result, it is important to recognize the value of proper nutrition on a consistent basis and the availability of resources for this population in order to improve their overall nutrition and health status (Zero to Three, 2012). As a result, there is a demand to improve the visibility of this problem and to support those with economic need who may lack access to proper nutrition during these vulnerable years.
Problem Related to Healthy People 2020
One of the key priorities of Healthy People 2020 is Maternal, Infant, and Child Health, which recognizes the significance of proper nutrition in promoting optimal development and growth (HealthyPeople.gov, 2016). As a result, factors that include social, physical, and emerging issues associated with nutrition for this population must be addressed, including the use of breast milk for infants as a form of complete nutrition, along with options such as lunches for school-age children (HealthyPeople.gov, 2016).
Many initiatives focus on the development of strong family units in order to enable infants and children to thrive in a loving and nurturing home environment (Zero to Three, 2012). In addition, programs that support gaps in nutrition include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the latter of which includes ten million infants, children, and their mothers (Zero to Three, 2012). This reflects the importance of understanding resource allocation and other factors that impact access to healthy foods to stimulate proper development for infants and children.
A primary intervention to improve nutrition may provide mothers with routine access to healthcare services at the prenatal stage and also the appropriate education that emphasizes breastfeeding, since breast milk is an optimal source of nutrition for infants. This will enable mothers to provide proper nutrition for their infants to stimulate proper growth and development during this vulnerable period of their lives. A secondary intervention to improve access to proper nutrition for infants and children is to offer federally sponsored program such as WIC to enable low income parents to purchase nutritious food for their families so that they are able to grow and develop at the appropriate level. A tertiary intervention may include the option to provide lunches to school age children at no charge, particularly in areas where there are many low income families. This provides a high level of support in order to improve the nutritional status of these children and to also stimulate their educational growth and overall potential. These options must play a role in shaping a positive dynamic within families where nutrition is a problem for infants and children and where access to these options is severely limited by low income status and other problems.
- Healthy People 2020 (2016). Maternal, Infant, and Child Health. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/maternal-infant-and-child-health
- Zero to Three (2012). National baby facts. Retrieved from http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/pdf/national-baby-facts.pdf