A lot of babies around the world are malnourished and, consequently, they face serious complications and even death. Malnutrition occurs when you do not get adequate nutrients through calories and protein. However it can be successfully treated with a diet rich in calories, protein, and vitamins. Common symptoms of malnutrition in babies are:
- Marasmus: It is seen as a loss of fat and muscle.
- Kwashiorkor: A child having kwashiorkor may seem healthy due to water accumulation in the body and will thus have a round, full look. Kwashiorkor is seen as an apathetic child with dark patches on the skin, brittle hair, enlarged liver and a bloated belly.
- Stunting: A malnourished child will not grow the way a healthy, nourished baby would. Once compared to growth charts, it is obviously evident that the child is not adequately nourished. The baby shows stunting of height and inadequate weight.
- Edema: Severe water retention is a sign of major malnutrition and indicates that the child requires urgent treatment.
- Other Symptoms: Babies and children will be disinterested in activities around them, they are listless and lethargic, and they lack eye contact and are crabby. He will sleep too much or cry disproportionately. Some will display a decreased immune function, slow reflexes, dry skin, tooth decay and bleeding gums.
Treatment Plan For Malnutrition In Children
Luckily, most of the detrimental effects of malnourishment can be reversed, especially if there’s only mild malnourishment.
Confer with your health care provider / pediatrician; he will conduct a physical examination and ask about the quantity and type of food your child eats. He will measure his height, weight, and BMI to see if the growth is healthy. He also needs to check for underlying conditions which may be the cause of the malnutrition. The doctor will also order blood tests to assess the nutritional status.
- The treatment regimen for malnutrition depends up on the etiological factor. Your pediatrician / dietitian will advise specific changes in the type and amount of food your child needs to eat, and will prescribe dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals.
- By and large, all health care providers prescribe an eating regimen – incorporate more protein and calories in the diet.
- Initially, the baby will be administered more calories in the form of carbohydrates, fats and sugars. Once these calories provide energy, baby will be given foods having a lot of proteins. Foods and calories should be increased gradually, given that, the baby has been without adequate nutrition for a long time, and the body needs time to adjust to the increased intake.
- Slowly, your health care provider will also prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements to expedite recovery.
Treatment which commences in the preliminary stages of kwashiorkor is known to promise a good recovery. On the other hand, you may never reach your full growth and height potential. In case treatment is delayed, the condition will still improve, but the mental and physical impairments will be long lasting. The condition is fatal if neglected.