What Stunts Your Growth?

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Inadequate nutrition in early childhood, chronic or recurrent infections, intestinal parasites and low birth weight can stunt growth, according to The Future of Children. Coffee, explains HowStuffWorks, is wrongly associated with stunted growth. Other causes, states WebMD, include medications, such as inhaled steroids taken for asthma.

Stunting is a significant and often permanent deficit to height, weight and cognitive development which occurs primarily in poverty-stricken areas worldwide, UNICEF explains, with nearly half of children under five in some countries of southeast Asia and nearly 40 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa suffering from stunting as of 1998. Overall in the developing world 39 percent of children suffer from stunting. In the United States, poverty directly correlates to childhood stunting, reports The Future of Children, with 1991 figures showing a rate of 10 percent among poor children.

Growth stunting does not happen casually or quickly, but instead over a long period of time during the crucial years of childhood development, explains UNICEF. HowStuffWorks explains that the mistaken notion that coffee stunts growth arises from a study that linked coffee drinking with decreased bone mass and osteoporosis, while more recent studies show no correlation between caffeine consumption and stunted height. Stunting prevention efforts focus on improving childhood nutrition worldwide, according to UNICEF and The Future of Children.