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UNICEF: About 87 million children under 7 spend their entire lives in conflict zones

March 24, 8:56 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
According to UNICEF experts, this puts their brain development at risk
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© EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA, Archive

UNITED NATIONS, March 24. /TASS/. About 87 million children younger than 7 years of age have spent their entire lives in zones of armed conflicts which is negatively impacting their brain development, UNICEF said on Wednesday.

"More than 86.7 million children under the age of 7 have spent their entire lives in conflict zones, putting their brain development at risk," UNICEF said. "Children living in conflict are often exposed to extreme trauma, putting them at risk of living in a state of toxic stress, a condition that inhibits brain cell connections with significant life-long consequences to their cognitive, social and physical development."

According to UNICEF experts, a child is born with 253 million functioning neurons. In the first seven years of life, the brain can activate 1,000 brain cells a second. Each of these cells, or neurons, has the potential to connect to 10,000 more neurons.

The brain’s full adult capacity is about one billion connectable neurons and whether the brain can reach this capacity largely depends on early childhood development, which "includes breastfeeding and early nutrition, early stimulation by caregivers, early learning opportunities and a chance to grow and play in a safe and healthy environment," UNICEF said.

"That is why we need to invest more to provide children and caregivers with critical supplies and services including learning materials, psychosocial support, and safe, child-friendly spaces that can help restore a sense of childhood in the midst of conflict," UNICEF Chief of Early Child Development Pia Britto said.

UNICEF says it provides emergency kits with learning and play materials to keep children in child-friendly environments. Last year, emergency kits were provided to more than 800,000 children living in "emergency contexts."

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