Malnutrition in children can have a negative impact on their growth and development. Therefore, parents must understand the causes and symptoms of malnourished children, so that they can prevent it.
Malnourished children can be caused by a lack of macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; or micronutrients, namely vitamins and minerals. The most common forms associated with malnutrition in children are kwashiorokor and marasmus. Malnutrition can cause children to experience growth disorders, such as underweight, short stature, and even failure to thrive.
Various Causes of Malnourished Children
In general, malnutrition in children is caused by not meeting the daily nutritional needs. This condition can be caused by the following factors:
1. Parents' ignorance about nutrition
Lack of parental knowledge about a healthy diet and balanced nutrition is the most common cause of malnutrition in children. If parents do not know the type and amount of nutrition their child needs, the nutritional intake provided may not meet the child's needs so that he or she becomes malnourished.
2. Low socioeconomic level
The poor socio-economic conditions of the family can also cause children to experience malnutrition. This is because if the portion and type of food do not meet the nutritional needs for a long time, the child will experience malnutrition.
However, this can be tricked by knowing sources of complete nutritious food that are easily found. These food sources don't need to be expensive, but they are kept clean.
3. Poor environmental hygiene
An unclean environment can also cause children to experience malnutrition, because a dirty environment can make children susceptible to various diseases. This can cause the absorption of nutrients to be hampered, even though the food intake is good.
4. Suffering from certain diseases
Apart from food, undernourished children can also be caused by a disease or medical condition, especially digestive tract diseases that make it difficult for the child's body to digest or absorb food. Examples are celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
In addition, congenital heart disease and infectious diseases, such as pulmonary TB, can also cause children to become malnourished.
Symptom Early Childhood Malnutrition
Some of the following symptoms can be experienced by children who are malnourished:
- The child's weight and height are below the growth curve
- Lack of appetite
- Growth is late
- Easy to feel tired and look lethargic
- More fussy
- Lack of attention to the surrounding environment
- Dry skin and hair
- Easy hair fall
- Cheeks and eyes look sunken
- Reduced fat and muscle tissue
- Mouth and gums are easy to hurt
- Vulnerable to infection due to decreased immune system
- Slow wound healing process
In addition, the development of malnourished children will also be disrupted. Children can even have learning difficulties when their nutritional needs are not met.
Immediately consult a doctor if your child experiences early signs of malnutrition. The doctor will calculate the child's body mass index and perform supporting examinations to determine whether the child is malnourished or not.
If the results show that the child is malnourished, the doctor will find out the cause and provide comprehensive treatment to the child, including medication and dietary adjustments. To deal with malnourished children, doctors will provide medicines, supplements, milk, and suggest a healthy diet to gradually meet the nutritional needs of children.