Improve food habits in infants, urge experts

ST Correspondent
Monday, 19 June 2017

Pune: City-based experts say that food-based approach to rectify micro-nutrient deficiency is the best way of overcome the problem.

 

Poor nutrition and micro-nutrient deficiency have a large impact and could impair mental development of up to 60 per cent infants in the developing world.

 

Dr Tushar Parikh, Consultant Neonatology at Columbia Asia Hospital said the deficiency can lead to more than 60,000 deaths during childbirth every year.

He was speaking at a press interaction to spread awareness about the issue.

Pune: City-based experts say that food-based approach to rectify micro-nutrient deficiency is the best way of overcome the problem.

 

Poor nutrition and micro-nutrient deficiency have a large impact and could impair mental development of up to 60 per cent infants in the developing world.

 

Dr Tushar Parikh, Consultant Neonatology at Columbia Asia Hospital said the deficiency can lead to more than 60,000 deaths during childbirth every year.

He was speaking at a press interaction to spread awareness about the issue.

According to a pediatrician, Dr Archana Kher, the best way to overcome micro-nutrient deficiency is by adopting food based approaches which are essentially food-based interventions that include diet diversity and consuming foods that are nutritionally enhanced.

"A significant number of children do not receive the recommended amount of nutrition due to limited awareness and unavailability of food items that are nutrient dense and balanced. Micro-nutrients include vitamins and minerals which are essential for the overall growth and development of an infant and their deficiency can have long-term impact on health," said Kher.

Dr Parikh added that problems associated with micro nutrient deficiency can have serious consequences.

"Since the human body cannot produce micro nutrients itself, they have to be supplied through complementary feeding. These interventions include food fortification and focus on balanced nutrition through diet diversification so that the infant gets adequate supply of vitamins and minerals," said Dr Parikh.

What is Micro-nutrient deficiency?
- Micronutrient deficiency or dietary deficiency is a lack of one or more micro-nutrients required for good health. It include vitamin deficiencies and mineral deficiencies.
- Iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of brain damage, resulting on average to a loss of 10-15 IQ points.  
- Zinc deficiency contributes to 1,16,000 deaths each year for children between one to five years.  
- Almost half of all children in low and middle-income countries are affected by anemia, and 42 per cent pregnant women which is around 56 million suffer from anemia - caused due to deficiency of iron.
(Source:  Dr Tushar Parikh, Consultant Neonatology)

How to make up for deficiency?
-  Adopting food-based approach, diet diversification and food fortification are some of the best ways to overcome the deficiency
-  Dietary diversification includes increasing the quantity of micro-nutrients in the diet by introducing more nutrient rich foods
-   Food fortification is adding micro-nutrients to processed foods and is one of the complements other approaches to micro-nutrient status.
-  Facilitating awareness amongst mothers and caregivers through nutrition education and programs should be on the priority list to combat the scourge of micro nutrient deficiency.

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