Data_Sheet_1_Benefits and Risks of Smallholder Livestock Production on Child Nutrition in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.docx
Livestock production may improve nutritional outcomes of pregnant women and children by increasing household income, availability of nutrient-dense foods, and women's empowerment. Nevertheless, the relationship is complex, and the nutritional status of children may be impaired by presence of or proximity to livestock and their pathogens. In this paper, we review the benefits and risks of livestock production on child nutrition. Evidence supports the nutritional benefits of livestock farming through income, production, and women's empowerment. Increasing animal source food consumption requires a combination of efforts, including improved animal management so that herd size is adequate to meet household income needs and consumption and addressing sociocultural and gendered norms. Evidence supports the inclusion of behavior change communication strategies into livestock production interventions to facilitate the sustainability of nutritional benefits over time, particularly interventions that engage women and foster dimensions of women's empowerment. In evaluating the risks of livestock production, evidence indicates that a broad range of enteric pathogens may chronically infect the intestines of children and, in combination with dietary deficits, may cause environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), a chronic inflammation of the gut. Some of the most important pathogens associated with EED are zoonotic in nature with livestock as their main reservoir. Very few studies have aimed to understand which livestock species contribute most to colonization with these pathogens, or how to reduce transmission. Control at the point of exposure has been investigated in a few studies, but much less effort has been spent on improving animal husbandry practices, which may have additional benefits. There is an urgent need for dedicated and long-term research to understand which livestock species contribute most to exposure of young children to zoonotic enteric pathogens, to test the potential of a wide range of intervention methods, to assess their effectiveness in randomized trials, and to assure their broad adaptation and sustainability. This review highlights the benefits and risks of livestock production on child nutrition. In addition to identifying research gaps, findings support inclusion of poor gut health as an immediate determinant of child undernutrition, expanding the established UNICEF framework which includes only inadequate diet and disease.