Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Health Ministry stated that one of the important phases to prevent stunting in toddlers is after birth, when the infant is 6-11 months and 12-23 months of age.

In these phases, there was a spike in potential stunting of up to 1.6 times, namely 13.7 percent during the age of 6-11 months and 22.4 percent during the age of 12-23 months.

"Prevention efforts in those phases must be strengthened. For example, at the age of six months old, babies must be given complimentary food (MPASI) apart from breast milk. MPASI is needed to fulfill babies' nutritional needs," the ministry's Director of Nutrition and Maternal and Child Health, Lovely Daisy, noted in a statement from her office on Friday.

According to Daisy, MPASI must consist of animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, chicken, and eggs, since they have high levels of protein and vitamins to support children's growth and development.

"Animal protein contains complete essential amino acids that can help with growth," she remarked.

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This was confirmed by research in 49 countries on 130,432 children aged 6-23 months that shows stunting in toddlers is caused by low intake of food sources of animal protein.

This research also shows that consuming a variety of animal proteins is proven to reduce the risk of stunting as compared to consuming only one type of food source of animal protein, Daisy added.

In addition, research in Central Jakarta related to consumption patterns in children aged 25-30 months, both with stunting and normal condition, showed that children consuming foods with low energy and protein had a higher risk of experiencing stunting.

"We must pay attention to our children's meals. It is supposed to be sufficient to support their growth," Daisy emphasized.

She expressed hope that commemoration of the 64th National Nutrition Day, themed "MPASI Rich in Animal Protein," on January 25 will be an important momentum to increase public knowledge and awareness regarding the importance of providing MPASI with animal protein to support children's growth and development and prevent stunting.

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Translator: Sean Muhamad, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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