Mother and child malnutrition is a major cause of mental disability in Cambodian children, according to a new study released by New Humanity in Cambodia today. Rene Ayala Moreira, the research team's leader, said he had surveyed 72 families in Boribor district, Kampong Chhnang province, 90 km north of Phnom Penh. While malnutrition was a major cause of disability, other causes were the child’s severe fever and convulsion, head accident, wrong medication, complicated delivery. Some respondents believed the disability was due to supernatural cause, he said. There are no exact numbers mentally disabled in the country and scientific study is limited . Researchers found that maternal and newborn healths still face severe challenges in Cambodia, especially in rural areas. Moreira said that while most pregnant women go to a public hospital for antenatal care, most do not give birth there. “We found out that 90.9 percent of Cambodian women come to public hospital for antenatal care, at the same time there are 66.7% are delivery at home with a traditional midwife. Only 23.6% go to the public hospital," he said. Sem Sokha, Secretary of State of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation said he supported the research findings. “It is an important research that will let us understand about the issues of the mentally disabled children and their family as well as the challenges in the local area," he said. Chandy Cheng, program manager for the New Humanity community-based rehabilitation center program, said there are 98 disabled children provided with health care as well as a training program at its five centers in two provinces. They are the most vulnerable people, most of them are from the poor families, he said.
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