Malnutrition is a broad term and it includes both under-nutrition (lack of nutrition in body) and over-nutrition (increased levels of nutrition in the body). Over-nutrition mainly results in overweight individuals and obesity, however here in this article we will be mainly focussing on under nutrition. According to the World health Organisation, child malnutrition is one very serious condition currently affecting millions of children across the world. In children with under-nutrition the nutrients present in the body get utilised immediately lot before they can be replaced. Body is deprived of the essential vitamins and minerals and essential nutrients which affects functioning of various tissues and organs and results in disorders. Malnutrition can also result in long-term serious illnesses. Depending on the type of nutrition element which is lacking the symptoms appear; however the common symptoms seen are pale skin, yellowish appearance, pale eyes, appearance of rashes, pigmented and patchy skin, bleeding of gums, night blindness of eyes becoming sensitive to light, hair fall and thin hair. Malnutrition is observed in both developed and developing countries. Some of the major causes of malnutrition in children are described elaborately as follows.
Here Are Childhood malnutrition Causes And Treatments
Poor Dietary Practices
Poor diet means lack of nutrition in food. This happens because of unhealthy eating practices or unavailability of healthy food. In developed countries high consumption of junk food has led to obesity and under nutrition. Children are becoming more and more stubborn and highly inclined towards junk food which has tremendously increased under nutrition globally.
Lack Of Breast Feeding
Due to reasons like lack of knowledge or poor household conditions, poor health of mother etc. the children who remain devoid of breast feeding grow on to become undernourished. Breast feeding must be continued for at least 3 months for keeping the child healthy.
Shortage Of Food
In developing or poor countries where there is a shortage of food, malnourishment is on rise. Availability of healthy nutrition rich is very scarce.
Problems With Digestive System
In cases where nutrition intake is adequate and the diet is appropriate, still the child shows signs of undernourishment. This happens because the nutrition in the food is not absorbed and utilised properly; thus unavailable for body utilisation. This happens in case of gastric ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, severe diarrhoea and vomiting etc.
Treatment of Childhood Malnutrition
Treatment of malnutrition depends on the cause; so if there is any gastric-disorder which is inhibiting the absorption of nutrition relevant steps must be taken. The measures to be taken to reduce and treat childhood malnutrition are as follows.
Individualised Diet Plan
A dietician or a nutritionist will give you a proper diet plan based on different tests which will be performed. The child’s requirement of nutrients is first analysed and based on that an individualised diet plan is made. The diet should be containing essential amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibres and essential nutrients. Also sufficient amount of water must be given to the child.
Additional Artificial Nutritional Support
When the child is malnourished, just the diet doesn’t help at times. An additional source of nutritional supplement is given. This can be given either by enteral route (orally or by inserting a tube in the nasal cavity) or by the parenteral route (intravenous). The missing nutrients are delivered in the body in the form of a solution via the route which is most suitable for the patient. This solution may contain electrolytes, vitamins, minerals etc.
Treating Underlying Conditions
For gastrointestinal diseases which reduce absorption of nutrients a gastroenterologist is consulted. Depending on the disorder the treatment (medication or surgery) will be advised. For Crohn’s disease which is an inflammation of the GI tract a surgery of intestine is suggested most likely. The other condition is celiac disease which is basically intolerance to gluten; and consumption of a balanced gluten free diet prevents occurrence of malnutrition. One of the very common conditions involved with malnutrition is Ulcerative colitis; which is swelling and inflammation of the large intestine. In this condition body is unable to absorb nutrition and a balanced diet along with medications and surgery (some cases) helps in treating ulcerative colitis and preventing malnutrition.
The best approach however is to focus on preventing malnutrition rather than treating it. Parents must take proper care of including all the nutrient elements and essential nutrition in the child’s food. Learning and utilising innovative ways of making food nutritious and tasty helps while dealing with stubborn children. In under-developed and developing countries, the government must take appropriate measures to ensure adequate nutrition for every individual. Also a strict control on intake of junk food is essential.