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Medical News & Perspectives
November 5, 2008

Aid Groups Target “Silent” Malnutrition

JAMA. 2008;300(17):1983-1985. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.527

While the plight of children starving in the wake of a natural disaster or war often grabs headlines and prompts an outpouring of international aid, the difficulties of millions of children who face less severe forms of malnourishment during their first 2 years of life often go unnoticed.

But international aid organizations are working to draw more attention to this silent epidemic, and to marshal resources to provide supplemental foods to infants and young children who are at risk of malnourishment. Their efforts are being aided by the development and rigorous testing of new ready-to-use food supplements that may be distributed and used under even the most difficult circumstances. A symposium hosted by Doctors Without Borders in September provided a forum for organizations, governments, and food supplement producers to discuss these issues and build consensus on how to tackle the problem.