Saturday, June 14, 2014

6-12 Improvements

I woke up today without problems during the night.  I actually slept quite well, which surprised me.  I could tell I was feeling much better, but was still cautious with my food choices.  That seemed to work out well, since the rest of the day went quite well.  Throughout class I still had some trouble focusing, but I think the bigger problem is that I haven’t been studying.  I’ve had a lot of other problems that were more pressing.

Later, Samantha and I went to a training about anthropometry, which is the technical term for weighing and taking the heights of children.  I did have a basic understanding because of Peru, but I definitely learned things.  We have a hanging scale instead of the table one I used in Peru, but I am familiar with it now.  Afterward we had the joy of putting what we learned into practice!  Now, I am already familiar with the psychological warfare that takes place between hysterically screaming children and the people charged with weighing them from Peru.  That doesn’t make it enjoyable, but it is tolerable.  The first child we weighed was almost 2 years old, and her sound-making abilities were nothing short of world-class.  Eventually we finished her measurements, and by that point the boy of almost 4 years was already crying.  That’s never a good start.  Getting him into the harness for the hanging scale was a challenge, then his thrashing prevented an accurate measurement for some time.  Then was the height, which was no better.  Hopefully all of the children aren’t quite that difficult, but chances are that we will have some who don’t want to cooperate.  Sadly, these children were fairly typical in terms of stunting for this region of Guatemala.  Their weights were slightly below average, but still far out of the “underweight” category that is based on age vs. weight.  However, in terms of stunting, which is described as age vs. height, they were both in the severely malnourished category.  This occurs because they are being fed something, which maintains their weight, but it is not sufficient to correctly augment their physical development.  Stunting is an indicator of future shortness, weakness, and undeveloped brain functions.  Our study will be trying to tease out the root causes of stunting in a place with such abundant natural resources.  As I have said before, it is completely different than anything I have ever done before, but I am very excited for the lessons I will be able to learn through this opportunity.  

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