The World Health Organization (WHO) says that malnutrition is by far the largest contributor to child mortality globally and malnutrition during childhood usually results in poor health and lower educational achievements during adulthood.
Malnourished children also tend to become adults who have smaller babies.
What are the causes of malnutrition?
The food we eat should ideally have the essential nutrients that our body needs to keep us in good health. Absence of nutrients, or to be more specific, sheer lack of food results in malnutrition and poor health. This condition is widespread, especially in developing countries wherein people do not get sufficient food to eat.
Symptoms and Effects of Malnutrition
Both the body and mind gets affected due to malnutrition. If more nutrients are missing from a child’s body, severity of this condition increases and likewise problems also amplify. Depending upon which nutritional deficiencies a child has, the warning signs and symptoms can include:
- Energy levels are extremely low
- Dry and scaly skin
- Gums get swollen and begin to bleed
- Immunity declines resulting in body’s failure to fight infections
- Poor concentration
- Growth stops or slows down
- Difficulty in learning
- Organ functions get affected
- Bloated stomach
- Muscle weakness
A malnourished child is visibly underweight and in all probability would not have grown in height as compared to their peers who are healthy. Measuring the height and weight of a child will ascertain if they malnourished, especially if they are far below the average height and weight for a child of that age.
Blood test is another diagnostic tool to ascertain malnourishment. This is an effective yardstick to measure the levels of proteins in the blood. If the protein levels are very low then the child is malnourished.
Malnutrition can make way to a host of complications however it can be prevented if the diagnosis happens at the correct time. Consult your doctor for a diet recommendation and dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals. Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) is a path breaking treatment for severe acute malnutrition. To know more about it, read here.
Written by: Dr. Rohini
Edited by: C. Soni