Malnutrition is defined by the WHO as the imbalance between the supply of nutrients and energy and the body’s requirements to live and grow.
A child may be malnourished because he does not eat what he needs (typical of developing countries) or because his intestine does not absorb it or loses it in excess (malabsorption syndrome, typical of developed countries).
Types of malnutrition
Three types can be distinguished:
- Marasmus: is an insufficient intake of protein and calories
- Kwashiorkor: Sufficient intake of calories and deficient in protein. Both marasmus and kwashiorkor are very serious situations typical of developing countries.
- Undernourishment: it is less serious and usually occurs in developed countries. Undernourishment is the deficit of micronutrients (vitamins D, A, B, trace elements or minerals, such as iron) due to a poorly varied or balanced diet.
Causes of undernourishment
- Insufficient supply of nutrients (unvaried diet)
- Ignorance of infant feeding guidelines
- Cystic fibrosis
- long infections
- Chronic renal insufficiency
- cancer and chemotherapy
- Lead poisoning
- congenital heart disease
Prevention of undernourishment
- From pregnancy, the mother must follow a proper diet that guarantees proper nutrition of the fetus
- Promotion of breastfeeding
- Introduction of food when advised by the Pediatrician
It will be the Pediatrician who will evaluate each child to give the supplements they need and advise a balanced diet
When to consult the Pediatrician
- major weight loss
- Weak and brittle hair and nails
- loss of muscle mass
- prolonged diarrhea