The nutritional deficit in children
The nutritional deficiencies of children not only appear when there is a poor diet, in Western countries in most cases, a poor diet is usually the culprit. The nutritional deficit appears when there are deficiencies in the daily intake of calories, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals needed to meet the needs of the body.
These deficiencies begin to be common in children under 3 years of age and this entails important complications that derive from malnutrition.
Primary care pediatricians play a fundamental role both in the detection of nutritional deficit and in early treatment. For this reason, the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition (SENC) and the Spanish Society of Outpatient Pediatrics and Primary Care (SEPEAP), with the collaboration of Humana Spain, a company specializing in child nutrition, have coordinated to develop a guide that addresses the different factors that intervene in the nutritional risk of children. Its objectives are:
1. Offer more updated and verified information than currently available.
2. Sensitize pediatricians about the high incidence of nutritional deficits in children.
3. Help detect children at nutritional risk and establish solid therapeutic actions.
Causes of infant nutritional deficit
1. Errors in feeding due to: inadequate diets, vegetarianism, prolongation of breastfeeding without the introduction of complementary feeding or errors in the technique (disordered frequency, hypocaloric foods, poorly prepared bottles).
2. Alterations in the development of the child's eating behavior. The process of creating dietary habits begins in the period of total dependence on newborns and culminates in the autonomy of adolescence. In him, the attitude of the parents is determinant so that the children develop correctly the mechanisms of control of the appetite and control their sensations of hunger and satiety.
3. Social marginalization, poverty and ignorance they imply an insufficient diet. This is a problem that has been increasing in recent years with the crisis and the immigration of families from countries without resources.
4. Diseases or complications in the digestive system that prevent the correct food intake in the child. This must be treated so that it does not negatively affect the quantities of nutrients the body needs.
Consequences of the nutritional deficit in children
1. Infections It is demonstrated that infectious diseases are related to nutritional status, because undernutrition leads to the reduction of humoral and cellular immunity, and physical barriers such as protective mucus of the respiratory tract or gastric acidity.
2. Dysfunctionality. The physical and intellectual capacity are reduced. In addition, the infectious diseases that we talked about, also result in less activity and slow down the development of motor skills.
3. Chronic diseases. Low birth weight and nutritional deficit represent an increased risk of chronic diseases in adulthood, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cardiovascular accidents.
4. Mortality. A significant number of deaths in children are attributed to the effect of malnutrition, something that is totally avoidable if we diagnose and control it in time.
Solutions to avoid the nutritional deficit of children
Various investigations reveal that a significant number of Spanish preschoolers receive an unbalanced diet, and there are two main reasons: on the one hand, children are still familiarizing themselves with textures and flavors and reject some of the foods; and on the other, the current pace of life makes it difficult to follow a complete and varied diet. To solve these nutritional deficits, it is recommended to consume:
- From 3 to 5 servings per week of fish, the main source of Omega 3 DHA.
- Legumes and red meats, which provide iron.
- Egg, which contains vitamin D.
- Milks of growth to complete the diet with the adequate supply of Omega 3 DHA and iron, among other nutrients, and thus achieve an adequate development of the cognitive, motor, immune or nervous systems.