Causes of disability 11
Many babies who are born in poor families may be
born with disabilities or may die in infancy. This may be
because the mother did not get enough to eat when she
was pregnant. Or it may be because she did not get enough
to eat when she was a girl. Starting in childhood, a girl is
often given less food to eat than a boy. As a result, she may
grow more slowly and her bones may not develop properly,
which can later cause difficulty during childbirth—
especially if she does not receive good health care.
If a baby or young child does not get enough good
food to eat, she or he may become blind or have trouble
learning or understanding.
While she was pregnant,
the mother of this girl
with cleft lip and palate
did not get enough food
to eat containing folic acid
and calcium (such as dark
green leafy vegetables,
beans, and eggs).
In today’s wars, more civilians than soldiers are killed or disabled, and most of
them are women and children. Explosions cause people to become deaf, blind, and
lose their limbs, as well as causing other injuries. Their mental health is also badly
affected by the violence. The destruction of homes, schools, health centers,
and means of livelihood that results from conflicts and wars leads
to increased disability, poverty, and disease.
Land mines, cluster bombs, bullets, and chemicals
used in wars cause more disabilities in the world
today than anything else. They often injure women
who are carrying out their daily activities, such as
farming, or gathering water and wood.
Explosions and landmines cause many leg
and arm injuries, and often a child’s or a
woman’s leg has to be amputated. But only
about 1 of every 4 amputees gets an artificial
leg to replace a lost leg, because they are
usually expensive or difficult to get. The Mukti
and Satti limbs and the Jaipur Foot are good quality, low-cost, artificial
legs made by groups in India. For more information about these, see page
The international treaty to outlaw land mines could save many lives and
prevent many disabilities, but some governments still refuse to sign it. If it
has not, pressure your government to sign it.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007