Which parent does not want to optimize the growth and development of the child? The growth and development process of the child is determined by the fulfillment of nutritional requirements and appropriate stimulations according to their age. However, nutritional issues such as malnutrition remains a problem in many countries, including Indonesia. Based on the Basic Health Research conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2013, approximately 19.6% of under-fives in Indonesia are malnourished, corresponding to approximately 4.6 million children.
The formation of cognitive, motor, communication, and social abilities of the child is a continuous process. Nerve synapses will be better linked with the support from adequate balanced nutrition and appropriate stimulations. Do you know what important nutrients should be consumed by the child to maximize the development of their nerves?
In 1998, the National Academy of Medicine officially states that choline is an important nutrient for the body. The benefits of choline include assisting the functions of brain cells and playing an important role in the general development and activities of the brain. When the child is still in the womb, they will obtain choline from the mother, which is beneficial in the formation of the brain and memory. Choline also reduces the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus and decreases the production of homocysteine (a harmful free radical for the body).
In 2014, Bruce C. Kennedy, a neuroscience expert from the University of Minnesota, designed a study to evaluate the effects of choline supplementation. This study demonstrated that the provision of choline supplementation during pregnancy and the neonatal period (0-28 days) can increase long-term memory. Mothers can obtain choline from food such as salmon, eggs, chicken, beef, and chicken liver.
Another nutrient that is also important for the growth and development of the child is iron. Some of the benefits of iron include the formation of hemoglobin as a component of red blood cells in the body, the regulation of hormones in the blood, support of muscle functions, and improvement of brain functions. Iron also plays a role in the immune system of the body.
If the body requirements for iron are not met, there is a risk for several disorders such as microcytic anemia (low level of red blood cells due to a lack of iron in the body), disorders in the development of brain cell synapses, cognitive impairments, as well as inhibition of myelin sheath formation in the nerves.
The following are the recommended doses of iron supplementation in children from the Indonesian Academy of Pediatrics, with a priority for under-fives (0-5 years old) and in particular 0-2 years old:
Dose of Elemental Iron
Duration of Provision
0-2 years old
Every day between the ages of 4 months old and 2 years old
2-5 years old
Twice a week for 3 months in a row, every year
Iron can be obtained by serving food such as red meat, egg yolk, fish, nuts, or chicken liver for the child. Parents can also provide milk, fortified food containing iron, or supplements.
By ensuring that the child receives an adequate and balanced diet as well as appropriate stimulations, parents are supporting their growth and development process to proceed optimally.
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