Malnutrition is a condition, characterized by consumption of a diet, containing too less, or excessive amounts of nutrients. Such a condition, can lead to either undernutrition or overnutrition.
Protein energy malnutrition is one of the major manifestations of nutritional deficiencies. Signs and symptoms include the following:
Other signs and symptoms differ, based on the type of micronutrient deficiency that has set in. These include the following :
The following tests are carried out, to diagnose the type of malnutrition and its associated conditions that have set in:
Mild cases of malnutrition can effectively be treated with dietary modifications, and nutritional supplements, to correct the deficiencies. In such situations, MNPs – micronutrient powders can be used, to replenish the lost stores of the nutrients. MNPs are combinations of various vitamins and minerals in powder form, which needs to be mixed with any type of semisolid food. Such a type of method has been found to correct, as well as prevent nutritional deficiencies in children aged 6 to 23 months .
In case of moderate to severe cases, hospitalization may be indicated. It is necessary in cases when a severe form of dehydration has set in, along with clinical signs indicating the onset of other types of associated complications. Children or individuals with severe malnutrition, have to be administered enteral tube feeding to correct nutritional deficiencies .
Prognosis of the condition majorly depends on the cause of malnutrition. If primarily nutritional deficiencies are the culprit, then these can easily be corrected. However, if malnutrition has set in due to underlying disease conditions, then the disease needs to be treated to correct nutritional deficiencies .
Malnutrition stems from several factors which include:
Worldwide, malnutrition is known to be a major risk for illness and death. Statistics indicate that more than 54% deaths of children occurred due to malnutrition in the year 2001. In addition, children less than 5 years of age, fall easy preys to this condition, and this accounts for 300,000 deaths per years .
Pregnant women affected by malnutrition, are at an increased risk of giving birth to low birth weight babies. On the other hand, low birth weight infants have a difficult time in struggling for life, and also have to face consequences during their developmental years.
Malnutrition does not spare even a single organ system. Protein is required for growth and maintenance of body tissues. Energy is of utmost importance for various physiologic processes of the body. In addition, various micronutrients are essential for optimal functioning of the enzymatic processes. Therefore, nutrient deficiency in any, or all of these nutrients, has grave consequences. Malnutrition also causes poor immunity, which in turn predisposes the affected individual to develop other types of diseases conditions.
The best way through which malnutrition can be prevented, is by adopting healthy and correct dietary practices: The following measures can be followed:
Malnutrition is most commonly used for referring to undernutrition. It is one of the leading causes of morbidity, and mortality, across the globe. The condition can cause protein energy malnutrition to set in, and can also give rise to micronutrient deficiencies. Children and women are more affected by this condition. Retarded growth, behavioral changes, and wasting, are some of the major effects of malnutrition .