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Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Malnutrition (Undernutrition)

MALNUTRITION (UNDERNUTRITION)

Although malnutrition can mean undernutrition, overnutrition (see Obesity), vitamin deficiency, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency and iodine deficiency, this section covers undernutrition. 

A child is considered undernourished if he is below 80% of his expected weight. (See chapter on NORMAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT).

We should be seriously concerned if the weight is below 65% of the expected weight, or if the child fails to gain weight in 3 successive months. Thus, a child whose expected weight is 10 kgs. and who weighs less than 8 kgs. is considered undernourished. If he is less than 6.5 kgs, I would be much more concerned and give extra attention to find the cause of his undernourishment.


Normal Variations
It bears repeating that a child who is much below his average weight, but is active, full of life, gains weight slowly but surely and does not fall ill too often, is not ill. I would observe him for a couple of months and look for other common causes of lower weight like the small size of his parents, low birth weight and failure to gain weight in the first few weeks of life from any cause which is rather difficult to be compensated later on. 


Common Causes Of Undernutrition:

  • Premature termination of breastfeeding
  • Improper artificial feeding
  • Delayed addition of complementary foods
  • Infections like diarrhoea, urinary infection and tuberculosis and infestation with parasites
  • Heart disease
  • Emotional factors
  • Diabetes
  • Unknown cause — I refer to the few children I see every year who just refuse to gain adequate weight. Even detailed investigations fail to reveal the cause.

Fortunately, quite a few such children have become confident young men and women and are doing well in life.

The causes given above are common to all socio-economic groups, though less fortunate families will have children who remain undernourished because of common factors like poor purchasing capacity, lack of education, unsafe water supply, poor environmental sanitation and personal hygiene, coupled with certain wrong notions like starving a child with diarrhoea, undue restrictions of diet in jaundice, delayed addition of solids in a small infant, and giving infants dal water or thin soup containing very little energy.

TREATMENT: First, let your doctor confirm if the child is undernourished. Attend to his diet. The doctor may try to find out any possible cause that may be contributing to the undernutrition and treat the same. He/she may then follow the weight of the child on the same weighing scale to monitor the progress over a period of time.




7 March, 2016

 
Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Addictions
Adenoids
AIDS
Allergies
Anaemia
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Asthma
ADHD
Autism
Backache
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bleeding
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Breathlessness
Bronchiolitis
Burns
Calcium Deficiency
Cancer
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Chickenpox
Choking
Circumcision
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Constipation
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Cough
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Cuts
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Diphtheria
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
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Fears
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Headache
Head Injury
Hepatitis
Hydrocephalus
Hypertension
Hypospadias
Influenza (Flu)
Jaundice
Joint Disorders
Kala-Azar
Leptospirosis
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malaria
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
Measles
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Meningomyelocele
Menstrual Problems
Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Mumps
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Obesity
Pneumonia
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Poliomyelitis
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rabies
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rickets
Short Child
Skin Conditions
Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Splinters
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Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
Thrush
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Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Typhoid
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Vomiting
Wheezing
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)



Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Emergencies
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Homoeopathy
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
 
Guide to Child Care
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Introduction
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
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