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Laxmi and Savithri are two sisters from North Karnataka whose family is involved in construction work. They got married at the early age of 12 and 13. Moreover, it was a marriage where the two sisters got married to their two cousins.

Laxmi gave birth to a baby boy. He was a premature baby, preterm at the seventh month and weighed only 1.5 kilogram. He was three years old but couldn’t walk or speak. Her pregnancy was not registered in the Anganwadi; as a result, she got no support or guidance. The baby was not getting proper nutrition. On a good day, he was fed jawar roti. While she hadn’t started giving him supplementary food, Laxmi continued to give him breastmilk.

According to the WHO, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, in order to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, children should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.

When Save the Children came across the case, Laxmi was convinced to get registered at the nearby Anganwadi centre. She was also informed of the nutrients that her baby needs that will help his cognitive and physical growth. After sustained counselling, the baby’s condition has improved. He has started walking.

Laxmi’s sister, Savithri, is currently 17 years old. She was in her third month of pregnancy and undernourished. They sought Save the Children’s help when she started experiencing abdominal pain. An ultrasound scan revealed only a gestational sac, but the foetus hadn’t formed. On medical recommendation, she terminated her pregnancy. After her recovery, the Save the Children team explained the danger of having a child at such a young age. Her family members were encouraged to do family planning for a safe and healthy family. Her mother-in-law was hard to convince, but she relented after repeated interaction and when she was shown a few health and family welfare videos.

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