“We hope that our son can study and one day become a teacher,” shares the mother of 6-month-old Kevin.
Kevin lives with his older brother and parents in a one-room cinderblock house in Guatemala. His mother works at home, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Kevin and his brother. His father works as an assistant bricklayer, building houses and churches in nearby communities. Although Kevin’s parents want the best for their son, they do not have the resources to feed him even one vegetable, piece of fruit, or egg—the minimum that he needs to be able to overcome malnutrition.
Kevin’s mother noticed that her son is not growing well and is underweight, but did not realize that she was supposed to start feeding her son complementary foods. Subsequently, his current diet lacks protein, calories, and nutrients. If he does not receive treatment, Kevin could face the consequences of malnutrition for the rest of his life—he could have a low IQ, trouble focusing in school, and a greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension as an adult. All these consequences make it less likely he will have a well-paying job as an adult, meaning the cycle of poverty and malnutrition would continue if he decides to have kids.
Growth monitoring, micronutrient and food supplementation, and deworming medication will help Kevin recover from malnutrition. He will gain weight and grow taller to catch up with other children his age. His immune system will grow stronger with the increased caloric intake. This will further increase his appetite and help him use the extra calories to gain motor skills and learn new words instead of those calories being wasted on getting over frequent illnesses.
In addition to Kevin’s treatment, his mother will receive the support she need to feel empowered to give Kevin the diet he needs to grow and develop healthily, even with limited resources. Intervention now will give Kevin the chance to live a healthy and productive life and escape the cycle of malnutrition and poverty that made him sick in the first place.