Scientific ASIA

Maternal Feeding Practices- A major cause of malnutrition in children

The functioning of the human body is different for multiple age groups. Amongst all these, the most sensitive is the old population and children. These two groups remain highly susceptible to the development of life-threatening diseases. The biology in older ages and children is much more sensitized than adolescents and adults. This requires special care, especially in children for normal development. Neglect in regular nutritional practices can lead to severe deficiencies. Derangement in normal nutritional status can hinder the developmental process in children. This phenomenon is called malnutrition in children.

The term malnutrition covers a wide range of diseases resulting from different kinds of nutritional deficiencies. If a diet lacks protein, the type of malnutrition would be protein energy. Overall disturbance in feeding practices can lead to variable degrees of malnutrition.

One of the leading causes of malnutrition in children is feeding difficulties and food refusal. Abnormal feeding practices can have varying effects on children based on the age and stage of development. In infants and babies, altered nutritional status can hinder cognitive development and cause mental retardation. In older children, it can lead to low immunity, causing a multitude of infections. Repetitive infections with incomplete recovery can derange the electrolyte balance causing an acute state of emergency. Hence, the prevention of malnutrition is essential for a healthy course of life in children.

Eating difficulties in children are often caused due to a lack of awareness and education. Counseling of mothers about the adequate diet and feeding practices is very important for the good health of children. Malnutrition is the most common cause of death in children under the age of five. Thus the study of feeding habits, maternal practices, and nutritional status in children under the age of five is very important.

According to the latest research carried out in Kecamatan District, Indonesia, illiterate mothers had a higher ratio of abnormal feeding practices. A. Hizni and his research fellows conducted an experiment that observed the behavior as well as the activities of 74 mothers.

It was determined that strict adherence to proper routine in feeding led to less food refusal in children. Hence, the results suggest that feeding habits in children can be improved by educating mothers. By doing so, malnutrition amongst children can be effectively tackled.

Original research work is published in Pakistan Journal of Nutrition

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