Dreamer | Foodie | Chaotic | For Collaborations, reach out at Rishnita@yahoo.co.in

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Hidden Hunger: The Specter of Micronutrient Deficiency in Infants



Children are the future of our planet – the ones who will eventually contribute to significant socio-economic growth, and shape the world around us. That is a one of the biggestresponsibilities which they are entrusted with. Surely, they need strong shoulders and sharp brains for that, don’t you agree?
Therefore, it is indispensable for a baby to be fed with the right food, considering all the nutritional needs that are important for proper growth of infants.

Issues faced in the meeting nutritional needs of a newborn

While feeding a newborn, numerous factors need to be taken care of, because the initial years are the building blocks for a newborn baby’s good physical and mental health. A common mistake made in feeding a baby is the negligence of including micronutrients in the daily diet. This negligence results in micronutrient deficiency which affects a child’s growth, mental development, and the overall well-being of the newborn.
Micronutrient deficiency is also termed as ‘hidden hunger’, and it affects more than 2 billion people in the world. It has adverse effects on a child’s physical and cognitive health, and theseeffects are more acute during the first 2-2.9 years.

Hidden hunger is a global issue

Unlike other health problems and chronic diseases, prevalence of micronutrient deficiency is not limited to developing countries. It is a cause for concern in the economically stable nations too, as iron and iodine deficiency are higher in the developed countries. This problem occurs as on many occasions,it is assumed that if children are having 3 meals a day, they cannot suffer from any kind of deficiency, but that is not the case every time. 
Eating food and eating the right food are two different things, and most of the time, small children prefer food options that satisfy their taste buds, but not their nutritional requirements. In micronutrient deficiency, more than the quantity of food the type of food is more crucial. This is the reason why more than 50% of healthy looking children are living with sub-clinical and biochemical deficiencies of micronutrients, as reported by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau.
This is a serious concern as it affects a large part of the population, and there are even cases which go unnoticed or unreported as the clarity on the symptoms of hidden hunger is minimal, and not all get the required treatment to better the situation.

Let’s look for the solutions

The problem of micronutrient deficiency is big and widely prevalent. Interventions are needed to be introduced, to counter the problem of hidden hunger. Changes in dietary habits with more awareness towards the importance and sources of micronutrients is the need of the hour. Awareness programs that educate about the importance of breastfeeding (6-12 months), to the mothers of newborns is also required.
Also, it is important for parents to know about supplement foods, such as - fortified foods, fortified cereals and iron and vitamin supplements. They can introduce these in a newborn baby’s diet, for an enriched diet with key micronutrients.
Follow @Rishnita