8th June 2023 marks the beginning of Growth Watch Month, which aims to bring parents and healthcare professionals together to avoid stunting in kids and teenagers so they can reach their full development potential for a better future. This annual nationwide event was created by the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) as part of its IMFeD For Growth campaign, which started in 2012.
Launching of Growth Watch Month
Growth Watch Month was jointly launched by the MPA and its partners, namely, the Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysian Family Medicine Specialists’ Association, Malaysian Association of Kindergartens, and Malaysian Association of Registered Early Child Care and Development.
Growth Watch Month is primarily focused on identifying kids and teenagers who are either stunted or at risk of stunting, according to Professor Dr. Lee Way Seah, Chairman of IMFeD For Growth Programme. The organisers will guide their parents on the proper nutritional interventions and assistance required to bring their children’s growth back on track through relevant activities.
While the majority of Malaysian children and adolescents are growing normally, childhood stunting remains a concern for the rest of them.said Professor Dr Lee Way Seah, Chairman of IMFeD For Growth Programme
Children are expected to reach 60% of their adult height by the age of five. Sadly, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022, 1 in 5 children, or 21.2%, had stunted growth. Additionally, the NHMS 2022 found that 6.8% of our teenagers were stunted. These individuals were not getting the full advantage of growth spurts that would have brought their potential adult height by an additional 15% to 20%.
Stunting Amongst Children in Malaysia
Stunting has both immediate and long-term effects that are evident. Children with stunts frequently become sick more frequently, lose more learning opportunities, perform less well in school, and have lower self-esteem. They run a possibility of developing stunting as adults, which is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, reduced economic productivity, and a lower lifetime-earning potential.
We need to nip stunting in the bud. It always starts with growth faltering. This is when children are not receiving enough nutrition so their growth rate literally ‘slows’ down. Without adequate energy, protein, fats and micronutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and so on, their bones and muscles will not be able to develop at a healthy rate.continued Professor Dr Lee Way Seah, Chairman of IMFeD For Growth Programme
Faltering growth can happen at any stage between childhood and adolescence, and because it usually happens gradually, it frequently goes undetected. The children might eventually never be able to regain their height and turn into permanently short adults who will have significant challenges for the rest of their lives.
Professor Lee emphasized that in order to attain optimal growth, a number of essential conditions must be met. These conditions include proper feeding habits, optimum nutrition, age-appropriate physical activity levels, and regular growth monitoring starting at a young age. He further stated that parents are encouraged to bring their kids, who are between the ages of 1 to 17, to have their growth evaluated by a medical practitioner who has received training in the M-I-M method.
The M-I-M Method
‘Measure’ is the first M, which stands for measurement. To determine if the children’s growth falls within the normal, at-risk, or stunted limits, the measures of the children’s weight and height are plotted onto WHO growth charts.
The following letter is the “I”, to ‘Identify’ the root problem if the kids’ growth is limited or falters. Malnutrition, unhealthy lifestyle habits, underlying medical conditions, poor parenting skills, or a combination of these, are common causes of development failure in children.
Finally, the medical staff would be equipped to “Manage” the issue. Interventions could include promoting healthy lifestyle behaviour, enhancing parenting skills, and providing adequate and appropriate nutrition.
Activities of Growth Watch Month
Growth Watch Month offers the chance to draw parents’ attention to growth, according to Dr. Selva Kumar Sivapunniam, President of the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA).
We will work with all relevant stakeholders to conduct educational activities. These will include media write-ups and interviews. Parents and caregivers will also be able to enjoy a series of four lively Parents Forums, broadcast live over Zoom, https://www.facebook.com/MPAEDS/ and https://www.youtube.com/@mpaedssaid Dr Selva Kumar Sivapunniam, President of the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA)
The forums will feature a celebrity host and members of the IMFeD For Growth Expert Panel and address subjects including:
- Feeding, Nutrition And Growth For Tiny Tots
- Helping Children Shine In School
- Nurturing Growth Through The Teenage Years
- Parenting Tips For Healthy Children
Dr. Selva noted that the IMFeD For Growth Annual Screening Campaign, which will be held from August to November 2023 in all IMFeD clinics listed on https://clinics.imfed.my/, will be another significant highlight of Growth Watch Month. Since 2018, IMFeD has screened 127,000 kids.
During today’s Growth Watch Month start ceremony, a forum with the title “Stunting in Children and Adolescents: Nature or Nurture?” was held. IMFeD For Growth members gave insightful insights and advice during the session, which was moderated by celebrity host Daphne Iking. The experts include Dr Yong Junina Fadzil, a Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Cardiologist; Prof Dr Firdaus Mukhtar, a Clinical Psychologist; and Ms Rozanna M Rosly, a Clinical Dietitian.
For more information about IMFeD Malaysia and Growth Watch Month, visit https://www.imfed.my