A Paediatrician, Dr Uche Anene-Nzelu, says malnourishment can cause severe issues for children including malaria, measles and pneumonia.
Anene-Nzelu, who works at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
According to her, malnutrition occurs when a child does not take adequate nutrition required by the body.She said that malnourishment could create an additional problem and burden for the child already suffering from malnutrition.
The paediatrician also told NAN that malnutrition in children could start from when the mother was pregnant, saying that when this occurs, some organs of the child’s body could be at risk of not developing properly.
“The impact is more from when the mother is pregnant to about two years of the child’s life.
“So, you hear people talking about the first 1000 days of life; 270 days from when the child is in the womb to about 730 days of the first two years of life.
“These are the points where you have significant far-reaching impact even unto adulthood.
“If the mother is not properly managed as well; brain development, kidney development can also pose problem,” she said.
Anene-Nzelu said another major issue that could arise from malnutrition in children was stunt growth.
She explained that a child could be stunted, if he does not attain the required height and size for his age in the first two years of life.
The paediatrician, however, noted that not every shortness in people was as a result of malnutrition.
She said: “There are genetic reasons why some families will be short. If the family’s height is within that range, you do not expect the child to grow tall.
“As long as the child is feeding appropriately and following the curve and a pathway of growth, though the child is short for that age, there may not be much you can do.”
Anene-Nzelu urged mothers to take the National Programme on Immunisation (NPI) seriously and ensure that the growth rate of their children was checked and charted whenever they go for immunisation.“Stunting or growth failure should be corrected within the first two years of life.
“If it is not corrected then, studies have shown that they may remain stunted throughout life,” the paediatrician said.
She recommended proper nutritional support, nutritional management and appropriate nutrition for stunting caused by malnutrition.