What Is Growth Retardation?

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Growth retardation is the body’s response to malnutrition and it has various adverse consequences on individual’s life cycle, especially when it occurs during key developmental stages. Retarded growth is caused by internal coping mechanisms to environmental and nutritional changes and has a long lasting effect on individual’s growth, thus influencing population’s level of health. The phenomenon can be attributed to Human Plasticity, or the body’s ability to adapt to multiple environments. While the maintenance of good health is paramount, it is affected by socio-cultural and economic factors that vary from people to people. One of the lasting consequences of poor health is the reduction of the reproductive capacity of population. Ultimately, …show more content…
Nutrient deficiency not only adversely affects physical development but it also increases the risk of acquiring diseases due to a weakening of the immune system (Bogin, 1998). In Bogin’s example, the lack of iodine in the diet of Mayan children exposed them to infections and intestinal parasites resulting in stunted height. Moreover, the effects of malnutrition are intensified depending on the timing of the deficiency during an individual’s life, especially during the stages of early development. Life History Theory suggests that during their respective life cycles, all organisms experience physiological as well as behavioral changes which vary greatly depending on the timing and the intensity of certain experiences (Wiley & Allen, 2013). During pregnancy, an unbalanced diet leading to poor nutrient intake by the mother will directly impede fetal development during the second and third trimesters. This time is critical as the fetus matures its organs, increasing in overall length and weight. Malnutrition during this period results in undersized organs and innately weaker children. With the increase rate of poverty in 2003, the pregnant mothers are more likely to experience shortages of food, or inadequate nutritional intake, thus explaining why children born between 2004 and 2006 are shorter than others. These effects are the same if the mother succumbs to sickness …show more content…
An individual’s level of health during life cycle stages is determined by socio-cultural and economic factors. From an economic standpoint, a particular society is shaped by its access to resources. Barring any direct intervention to control birth count, a population’s size is limited by food availability while household composition dictates food distribution amongst its members. A limited food source results in the diminished food intake per individual and creates a ceiling on how many offspring one family can produce and sustain. As such, stunting - which is an indicator of chronic malnutrition - is usually manifested in the first born offspring. As conditions improve and food sources become more abundant, the family unit grows in number and stunting becomes less and less prevalent in the second offspring onwards. The main problem with children growing up in difficult conditions, either due to lack of nutrients or disease but then find themselves in environments of abundance, is that their metabolic efficiencies representing adaptations to scarcity become risk factors for later life diseases (Wiley & Allen,

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