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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Video US, Cuba Make Progress in Restoring Diplomatic Ties

Friday's session focuses solely on opening embassies in Washington and Havana as quickly as possible
More

Mexico Arrests Drug Lord 'La Tuta'

Mexican federal police captured Knights Templar drug cartel leader Servando 'La Tuta' Gomez, one of the country's most wanted fugitives
More

Embassy Reopenings Top Americans' List in Cuba Talks

Cuba has said it will be linking embassy issue to whether US drops it from State Department's list of sponsors of terrorism
More

Argentina Passes Bill to Revamp Spy Agency After Prosecutor's Death

President Cristina Fernandez says new state security body will be more accountable but government opponents say legislation does little more than change name of spy agency
More

US, Cuba Set for 2nd Round of Talks on Diplomatic Ties

Negotiations in Washington, which follow initial meeting in Havana in January, to include discussion on reopening embassies
More

Obama Defends Immigration Plan

During Town Hall at Spanish language station Telemundo in Miami, US president insists he was within his rights to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation
More