Growth from conception through age 2 years, the “First 1,000 days,” is important for long-term health of the growing fetus and child and is influenced by several factors including breastfeeding and complementary feeding. Low- and middle-income countries face a complicated array of factors that influence healthy growth, ranging from high food insecurity, poor sanitation, limited prenatal or neonatal care, and high levels of poverty that exacerbate the “vicious cycle” associated with intergenerational promotion of growth retardation. It is now well recognized that the period prior to conception, both maternal and paternal health and diet, play an important role in fetal development, giving rise to the concept of the “First 1,000 Days+”. Breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices can be improved through a combination of interventions such as baby-friendly hospitals, regulations for marketing of foods and beverages to children, adequate counseling and support, and sound social and behavior change communication, but continued research is warranted to make such programs more universal and fully effective. Thus, improving the overall understanding of factors that influence growth, such as improved breastfeeding and age-appropriate and adequate complementary feeding, is critical to reducing the global prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition.

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