Impact of the Economic Crisis and Increase in Food Prices on Child Mortality: Exploring Nutritional Pathways
The article explores how deteriorating nutrition, affected by increases in food prices, may be linked to child mortality. Due to the economic crisis, gains in child survival over the past few decades are likely to be threatened and millennium development goals will be harder to achieve. Beyond starvation, which is one of the causes of death in famine situations, there are numerous nutritional pathways by which childhood mortality can increase. These include increases in childhood wasting and stunting, intrauterine growth restriction, and micronutrient deficiencies such as that of vitamin A, iron, and zinc when faced with a food crisis and decreased food availability. These pathways are elucidated and described. Although estimates of the impact of the current crisis on child mortality are yet to be made, data from previous economic crises provide evidence of an increase in childhood mortality that we review. The current situation also emphasizes that there are vast segments of the world's population living in a situation of chronic food insecurity that are likely to be disproportionately affected by an economic crisis. Nutritional and health surveillance data are urgently needed in such populations to monitor both the impacts of a crisis and of interventions.