News / Americas

Infant Children Most Vulnerable in Post-Quake Haiti

Child in shelter for earthquake survivors in Haiti
Child in shelter for earthquake survivors in Haiti

As Haitians still struggle to survive from the devastating earthquake that struck in January, infant children are among the most vulnerable.  Studies suggest poor nutrition early in life can lead to chronic diseases later.  Malnourished infants are also very susceptible to diarrhea, measles and other diseases that can turn fatal.

Twenty-year-old Daniela Luc is a new mother.  She had her first child, a girl, one month ago here in the Daihatsu camp in Port-au-Prince.

Daniela's mother is equally glad to show off her new granddaughter.  Like 30 other mothers who have given birth in the camp since the earthquake, Daniela Luc will have quite a story to tell her daughter when she is older. "I will tell my daughter that she was born at a bad time, when there was an earthquake and she was born under a tent," she said.

Nutrition experts are increasingly concerned about newborns living in tent cities.  Studies show that good nutrition in the first 24 months of a child's life is critical to their development.  And since the quake, there are concerns that child nutrition in Haiti has worsened.  Kathryn Bolles is with the humanitarian group Save the Children.

"One of the most life saving practices that a mother can do for her baby is breast feed immediately and exclusively.  And Haiti has had a relatively low exclusive and immediate breast feeding rate prior to the earthquake," she said.

Poor child nutrition in Haiti was common before the earthquake.  Many families survived on one meal a day.  The Haitian government and international NGOs have created what is known as the baby tent. The goal is to encourage and assist more mothers to breast feed their children.  Julia Bonhonnette is a nutrition counselor in the Daihatsu camp's baby tent.

"The problem we have is that mothers don't want to breast feed their baby.  We advise them to breast feed because it is better for the baby.  And if the mother still doesn't want to do it we provide artificial milk," she said.  

Kathryn Bolles says there are a number of reasons Haitian mothers fear breast feeding their babies after the earthquake. "And there were a number of them who felt like their milk had been damaged by the earthquake.  Mothers who felt like their milk had become hot, or not enough of it.  Or, impacted negatively and would actually cause harm to the babies," she said.

The counselors work individually with those mothers to get them to breast feed.

There are also nutritional problems with older children in the camps.  Officials told us there are more than 11,000 people living here. Two thousand are children.  This group of boys, all around 10 years old, say they usually eat one meal a day of rice or corn meal, no meat or vegetables.  Nutritionist Jean Baker with the AED Center for Nutrition says that can be damaging for children about to enter the rapid growth period of adolescence.

"Adolescence is another period where if you can, you want to be sure that you are providing good nutrition and good feeding.  Because these kids are going to have a growth spirt then and if you can improve their nutritional situation, that will have an impact," she said.

With so many people still out of work and no means to feed their family, proper nutrition is often impossible.  Some children eat what they can pick off of trees.  Camp officials told us food aid here is sporadic.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Drug Lord Mask Topping Halloween Sales

Mexican authorities continue search for escaped Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán, but manhunt for Sinaloa cartel leader could be tough - many plan to dress like fugitive

Panama Condo Owners to Trump: You're Fired!

Directors of luxury condominium development say mismanagement, overspending and undisclosed bonuses executives paid themselves prompted decision

Rescued Chilean Miners Were 'Battle-Scarred,' Author Says

Despite becoming celebrities after their improbable rescue in 2010, the men were deeply wounded, said writer Hector Tobar

Celebration of Peru's Economic Boom Comes Late

World Bank, IMF policymakers this week call country a prize pupil of financial stability, however, plunging prices for minerals have cut annual growth dramatically

Guatemala Landslide Death Toll Tops 220; Another 350 Missing

Loosened by heavy rains, hillside collapsed onto Santa Catarina Pinula on southeastern flank of Guatemala City October 1, burying scores of homes

Report: More Than 58,000 Violent Deaths Last Year in Brazil

Annual report on public security says number of violent deaths up nearly 5 percent last year from 2013, when country suffered a then high of 55,000 such deaths