Jakarta (ANTARA) - Not all short children are stunted in growth, although stunted children are always short in stature, according to expert from Gadjah Mada University Prof. Dr Madarina Julia.

Julia highlighted the difference between being short and being stunted and referred to the definition set by the WHO and UNICEF.

"Short children only experience disturbance in growth. However, stunting is related to shortness and poor nutritional intake, repeated infections, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation," the professor stated during a virtual conference on Thursday.

The expert noted that several people still harbored this misconception until this day and warned that it could result in wrong diagnosis and treatment.

"Often when we diagnose (children are known to have) stunting, we tend to give extra food or additional calories. Hence, if we misdiagnose and give additional food or calories to children, who are not actually stunted, what would happen? We get more (children with) obesity," she cited as an example.

Stunting in children is suspected based on their short stature. Nonetheless, Julia emphasized that it was necessary to take other aspects into account.

There are some levels of probability of the risk. If the child is short and thin, then there is a likelihood of stunting. If the child is short and thin with a developmental disorder, most likely his growth is indeed stunted.

"However, if he is short and not thin, then he does not appear to be stunted. Moreover, if he is short, not thin, and without developmental disorders, then it is definitely not stunting," Julia explained.

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The professor drew attention to some methods of early examination that could be followed prior to giving a diagnosis, which could be read in the Maternal and Child Health book and supported by the Child Development Card (KKA) that had been provided by the Health Ministry and the National Population and Family Planning Agency.

The maternal and children health book had included an instrument to measure children's growth and development using the WHO curve.

Early examination through MCH is conducted by looking at the three components of height, weight, and head circumference. All these measurements must meet the values set by the WHO Child Growth Standards.

"On the other hand, the Child Development Card allows us to assess whether the child is developing well. (Among the parameters of) developments (are) whether he has started to sit or be prone at the right time; whether he has started babbling, socializing, or making friends; whether he can already respond to a smile; and so on," she said.

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Translator: Rizka K, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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