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The effects of poor nutrition and feeding in the first few years of life can be catastrophic for any child, but the stakes are particularly high for children in institutions who rely on their health for survival and/or a chance for a family.
Children enter institutions at a severe disadvantage having been malnourished in-utero and without the benefit of early breastfeeding. Once in an institution, they are further impacted by institutional factors that increase their risk for malnutrition, morbidity and mortality. These risks are further compounded for children with disabilities (CWD) – the majority of children in institutions today.
Only recently has malnutrition in institutionalized children been understood. SPOON Foundation has documented the poor nutritional status of young children living in institutions overseas. These data are critical to supporting deinstitutionalization efforts, while ensuring access to appropriate care and eliminating marginalization of children who remain in institutions. SPOON conducted growth and anemia assessments on infants and young children living in institutions in India, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.
In Kazakhstan, SPOON additionally collected motor and cognitive measures, as well as nutritional biomarkers. Each assessment included a control group to allow for comparison of the nutritional status of children in institutional care against those living with a family. Findings consistently demonstrated that children in institutional care are at higher risk for stunting, wasting, anemia and developmental delay compared to children living with families. The rates of acute malnutrition in these institutions far exceed the 15% Global Acute Malnutrition Rate indicative of a critical humanitarian emergency.
In response to these findings, SPOON offers a variety of interventions, including a Nutrition Screening System, Train the Trainer workshops, and diet optimization strategies.
Although many children are malnourished upon adoption, very few resources are available to parents that are specific to the nutrition of adopted children. In fact, the medical research into the area of adoption nutrition is almost nonexistent. The first comprehensive studies targeting adoption nutrition were recently completed at the University of Minnesota. Information from these studies was used by SPOON Foundation to inform their work in the area of Adoption Nutrition.
As a part of its mission, SPOON Foundation seeks to improve the health of both orphans and adoptees. To address adoptee health and nutrition, SPOON Foundation developed this Adoption Nutrition website.