Undernutrition is defined based on anthropometric indicators, clinical signs, and clinical tests. The four forms often overlap in one child or a population.
There are four forms of undernutrition:
• Acute malnutrition
• Micronutrient deficiency
Causes of Undernutrition
UNICEF's framework divides the causes into immediate, underlying, and basic causes. They cover a wide range of physiological, cultural, sociological, economic, and political causes. The basic causes for undernutrition are found at the national and international levels. The economic, social, and political context creates the structural causes for undernutrition, and these causes are deeply interrelated.
The underlying causes depict causes that are visible from the community and household level. Factors such as;
• Income, poverty
• unemployment, food shortages
• Care, availability of health services
• Hygiene: sanitation contributes to the prevalence of malnutrition. It is a direct source of the basic causes and leads to the immediate problems of infections and insufficient dietary intake.
• Other immediate causes of child undernutrition are inadequate dietary intake and that, inadequate dietary intake makes a person more vulnerable to infectious diseases.
Stunting is referred to as being low height for age(HAZ), less than minus two standard deviations (SD) of the new WHO Growth Standard, as it reflects a process of failure to reach linear growth potential as a result of sub-optimal health or nutrition conditions. On a population basis, high levels of stunting are associated with poor socio-economic conditions and an increased risk of frequent and early exposure to adverse conditions, such as illness or inappropriate feeding practices.
In developing countries, the prevalence of stunting starts to rise at about 3 months of age and then slows at around 2 years of age
Consequences Of Undernutrition
4. Small adult size
5. Low intellectual ability
6. Poor economic productivity
7. Poor reproductive performance
8. Metabolic and cardiovascular diseases
How To Prevent Your Child From Being Malnourished
1. Attend Antenatal clinic regularly during pregnancy
2. Regular attendance of child welfare clinics(weighing) while the child is still under 5 and most especially before the child turns 2 years to rule out any undernutrition challenge.
3. Immunize your child against childhood preventable diseases such as polio, measles, tetanus, etc.
4. Provision of appropriate diet for your child during and after illness
5. Good nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
Above all, see the doctor immediately if you see your child exhibiting any of the signs of undernutrition including stunting.
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