Why does Peru have the shortest population in South America? That's what genetics and nutrition say

Brazil is the largest country in South America by size – Aggregate credit Infobae / Andina

The System NCD Risk Factor Collaboration Its 2019 study revealed People of Peru They have the shortest elevation in all of South America. With average height 1.66 meters for men And 1.54 meters for womenThe country ranks last in the region, which varies considerably Brazilleads the rankings with 1.75 meters in males Y 1.61 meters in women.

Although this information is considered anecdotal, there is a lack of public policy and national-level research behind this premise.

Peru has the lowest altitude in the world - credit to Andina
Peru has the lowest altitude in the world – credit to Andina

Experts confirm that, among 80% and 90% height What an individual can have is limited by his genetic load and others by his environment. However, for Peru, there is an element that changes the development of its citizens.

In 2020, the Sink Company According to a genetic study carried out in Metropolitan Limawas diagnosed as a mutation The gene FBN1 Responsible for Peru's low altitude.

This variation is found exclusively in humans Native American ancestrySoumya Roychowdhury, lead author and researcher of the report The wider institution of MIT and Harvard. As is well known, a large proportion of Peruvians have indigenous roots.

This means that each copy of the gene is associated with a decrease in height of approximately 2.2 centimeters. If a person has two copies of the variant, they are 4.4 centimeters shorter.

For Fui Barga, Professor of Human Medicine Southern Science University, We still need to know which genes are decisive for Peruvians.

Science continues to advance in finding new treatments for people with genetic mutations that prevent them from growing - Credit EFE/ Aleksandar Plavevski
Science continues to advance in finding new treatments for people with genetic mutations that prevent them from growing – Credit EFE/ Aleksandar Plavevski

“In other parts of the world they are looking for precisely these things Genetic changes. In the future, it will be possible to predict with certainty what the size of a child or newborn will be,” he mentions in an interview. Infobae Peru.

“This way follow-up can be managed individually, so to speak, per patient 1.70 cm, but we see that his height will be 1.65 cm. So, even if it is within the normal range, it can be assumed that there is something affecting those five centimeters that are missing,” he adds.

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Barca also suggests that another reason why a person may have short stature is a deficiency in production growth hormone.

“That's why in the assessment we look at the levels of the parents, and essentially, the levels of the siblings, even the grandparents, to see if there is an important genetic component that can cause these people to have lower than normal levels,” he explains.

    A mutation in a gene causes short stature in Peruvians - Credit EFE/Jorge Nunes
A mutation in a gene causes short stature in Peruvians – Credit EFE/Jorge Nunes

For patients with deficiency growth hormoneYes, you can get an injection to correct this problem. However, this is not a treatment for everyone with short stature, the geneticist warns. Science University of the South.

“Even though our height is below the world average, there are clear cut-offs for when a person is short, so when we should start studying and looking for the cause, if there is one. Pathology Group“, he demands.

The other 20% that determines a person's height is the environment around him and within this component Feeding. Although comparatively less influential GeneNutrition is an important component in the development of children and adolescents and can determine their future in many ways.

Nutritionist Abel Falcon remembers that Development of a person It occurs during childhood, especially in the first three years of life, and during adolescence, when the well-known 'growth spurt' occurs.

Anemia also affects the development of children and may even have long-term consequences - Credit EFE/Carlos Ortega
Anemia also affects the development of children and may even have long-term consequences – Credit EFE/Carlos Ortega

During these years, diet is essential to determine whether adequate calcium and protein are provided for bone growth. Muscle mass growth.

“The National Population Family Health Survey It tells us that there are more or less than 7% of babies born with low birth weight. This includes not only from the birth of the child, but also from the moment he is present Mother's womb. The mother does not eat enough to cover the calories that this baby needs to grow in the womb. So, at least in rural areas, the child grows up short and underweight,” he argues.

If so, the condition may worsen Severe diarrheal diseases, Electrolytes and zinc can be lost, the expert warns.

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“In Peru, in rural areas, we also have cases where almost 21% are children Chronic malnutrition During the first five years of life. If you already have one Chronic malnutrition“They don't get enough protein, energy or minerals, so they reach adulthood with short stature,” he says.

Many Peruvian families cannot afford the food they need to eat enough - the Pelota Quadrata debt
Many Peruvian families cannot afford the food they need to eat enough – the Pelota Quadrata debt

Furthermore, anemia has also been presented as a challenge for Peru. “If a child is anemic, it affects their height. It cannot be recovered. No matter how much milk you drink, no matter how much sport you do, you cannot recover,” Falcon said.

Falcon focuses on the cross-cutting issue of everything surrounding development: Family Economy. In Peru, not all family groups have the same financial conditions, which affects the access they have Better nutrition.

The city may have a wide variety of food, but in rural areas, only some of the harvested and farmed animals are available, the expert opined.

“It's very common in the jungle, for example River fish Suddenly meat became the main dish Beef or chicken. In the hills, yams, potatoes, pulses, sweet potatoes and cassava are abundant. There is not much variety,” he laments.

Even if the government continues to implement educational talks for parents on how to avoid anemia or how to include the necessary proteins in the diet, it will not be enough due to the situation of poverty in which they find themselves.

Seven out of ten Peruvians are poor or at risk of falling into poverty - Credit Infobabe file
Seven out of ten Peruvians are poor or at risk of falling into poverty – Credit Infobabe file

“What you usually see in these workshops is that the mother comes from a very precarious situation, she doesn't even have a house with water and sanitation, they don't have a place. Where to do your needs. A mother comes with three or four children, all of whom are malnourished,” he says.

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“When asked to do these workshops and consume them Blood with chicken Or beef, they say: But I don't have money to get these foods, I can give rice with rice, I don't have money to buy a portion of chicken every day. That area is alien to our intervention. Best to see there family planning And by providing more employment opportunities in that sector we can achieve better economic growth,” he added.

According to Fui Barca, specific treatments are being developed for certain genetic conditions Achondroplasia, one of the most common bone dysplasias. For example, for more than two years, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Biomarin has approved the company's drug, Voxchoco, for people with the condition.

This drug can only be used in children under 5 years of age, but it is still an important advance for this field of science.

So, we are trying to continue on this path to help more and more patients. “For many people who have a dose with a particular genetic mutation, over time these treatments will become what we call personalized or precise,” he explained.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a drug for patients with achondroplasia - Credit EFE/EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a drug for people with achondroplasia – Credit EFE/EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

However, progress is awaited laboratory scientists, The geneticist insisted that research continue internally National territory

“It's important to expand these studies so that they don't just focus on environmental causes low height, Also, no wrongful steps have been taken from a public health perspective,” he pointed out.

In conclusion, although it is interesting that Peruvians have the shortest height of all South America, There are indeed flaws that do not allow us to develop to our full potential.

Experts were interviewed Infobae Peru They urge more research and improvement of the financial situation of the country's poorest families. In doing so, we can learn not only why we look a certain way, but also the health issues that affect the most vulnerable populations and how we can address them.

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