I've spent the last few weeks in front of a computer looking at child growth data. It may sound boring, but actually it has been pretty exciting to have the time to do these interim analyses of our community nutrition programs.
These programs, as many of you who have supported our work over the years know, are comprehensive. They provide medical checkups to young children, in addition to regular treatment for parasites and anemia and the provision of nutritional supplements. Recently, in the last year or so, we've also been working hard to improve our educational support of parents as they learn how best to support their children in the first few critical years of life.
Our primary endpoint is trying to reduce rates of stunting, or chronic malnutrition, in young children. This is the primary form of malnutrition in rural Guatemala, which leads to lifelong disability through short stature and impaired intellectual development.
And the good news is that our programs are working. For example, in one set of community data that I was analyzing last week, the rates of severe stunting have decreased more than 50%. At the same time, the rates of children who are underweight have decreased more than 60%. These sorts of demonstrable improvements in child health give us hope for the future!