Approximately 8.8 million Indonesian children suffer from stunting (short stature) because of malnutrition. Data Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) in 2013 recorded the incidence of stunting nationwide reached 37.2 percent. This number increased from 2010 by 35.6 percent.
"There is 1 out of 3 children in Indonesia experiencing stunting. In fact, the number continues to increase from year to year, " Universitas Gadjah Mada nutritionist, Prof.dr. Hamam Hadi, MS, Sc., Sp.GK., said on Tuesday (26/1).
Hamam said the incidence of stunting in some areas, especially eastern Indonesia such as East Nusa Tenggara is higher than the national average or more than 50 percent of children.
According to the man, the issue of stunting should be resolved soon. Because the high prevalence of child stunting has positioned Indonesia into the world's top five with stunting problems.
"Indonesia is a major contributor to stunting in the world," said the professor of Nutrition and Health course, Faculty of Medicine UGM.
According to Hamam, the problem of stunting is due to chronic malnutrition, prolonged inadequate nutrition or chronic. Stunting occurs during pregnancy because the mother eat little nutritious food.
"Children with stunted growth is a picture of chronic malnutrition which actually began in the fetus until the age of 2 years. If the kid undergoes malnutrition during this period, the impact will be very significant," he said.
Lack of nutrition in those period may increase infant and child mortality. Stunted growth in children has other impacts apart from the obvious impact of shorter stature of the person affected, which are reduced cognitive capacity and non-optimal growth as adults.
"The mental development of children with stunted growth also be afflicted. The hampered cognitive abilities in malnourished children causes the decline of their economic productivity so it will impact the national economy," Hamam explained.
Due to the lack of nutrient intake, Hamam said that the average height of a boy in Indonesia is 13.6 cm shorter compared to the WHO reference figures. Meanwhile, for the height of girl is 10.4 cm shorter.
Improve Maternal Nutritional Intake
To prevent stunted growth, Hamam stressed the need to increase nutrient intake according to the needs of pregnant women. Because the golden age of the child begins in the womb up to two years old.
"The mothers and pregnant women are expected to meet the nutritional intake," he hoped.
Hamam said that pregnant and nursing mothers belong to the vulnerable group in Indonesia. Data of Riskesdas 2013 noted that malnutrition in pregnant women in Indonesia is still high. This is indicated by the number of pregnant women suffering from anemia or lack of blood, reaching 37.1 percent.
Hamam added, to prevent the occurrence of stunting in children, family needs to increase their knowledge in child care and nutrition. Because the incidence of stunting is not only caused by lack of nutrition due to poverty but also mistreated in parenting.
"Some parents didn’t understand the proper parenting skills so that later leads to stunting. For example, no exclusive breastfeeding and no appropriate foods, " he said.
In addition, when the child is entrusted in the care of people with no adequate knowledge of nutrition, it could manifest the stunted growth. When children are under grandmother’s or helper’s care, who do not understand the proper parenting and good nutrition, the nutritional status of the children will be affected.
"Therefore, it is important to have the knowledge of nutritions and good parenting in the family," he concluded.