Book Review: The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – And the World
Read our CEO Richard Lackey’s Review of The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – And the World
For those who have followed the challenges in the developing world of sub-Saharan Africa, the author Roger Thurow is a recognized name, having authored “The Last Hunger Season” and “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty”.
Throughout all of his books, Roger creates, in simple prose, clear pictures of things as they truly are for millions of people in Africa and across the globe, and his assertions are supported by facts that are difficult to argue and that cause us to ask “Why?” Why are so many people in our world suffering from hunger? In the words of a friend and great champion in the fight to end hunger, former Congressman and Ambassador to the UN, Tony Hall, “The capacity to end hunger exists today. The only thing lacking is the will to make it happen”.
In Thurow’s newest book, “The First 1,000 Days” he studies women in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and the south side of Chicago to determine the parts that nutrition, education, clean water, and disease prevention play on the long-term health and well being of children.
While great progress has been made in reducing the mortality rates of children under 5, the progress has not been the same with regard to neonatal mortality. While childhood mortality rates have been reduced by 50 percent, neonatal mortality rates have only been reduced by 33 percent. In addition, the nearly 300,000 mothers that die each year while giving life could largely be prevented with proper nutrition and simple measures that are now common in wealthier nations. The 1,000 day period that begins around the conception of a child and continues through the first two years after birth are critical in the physical and mental development of a child. Blindness, neural tube defects, and other deformities are largely caused by insufficient vitamin and mineral intakes during pregnancy. Stunting and wasting are also linked to perinatal anemia and smaller birth weight brought on by insufficient iron and other vitamins and minerals.
The resulting problems of poor mental and physical development are a drain on families already struggling to make ends meet in areas dominated by subsistence farming. Thurow makes the case for focusing on more complete nutrition during the first 1,000 days as a mechanism for not only reducing morbidity and mortality and the obesity and stunting caused by malnutrition, but also for improving the capacity of children to complete higher levels of education and to take on better paying jobs with lessened risk for chronic illness and less stress on the family unit.
From an economic point of view, countries providing aid will see more benefits from focusing their aid on improving the first 1,000 days of a child’s life than at any other age and all of humanity will be better served. – Richard Lackey, CEO, The World Food Bank