Malnutrition In Children: It’s Not Always What You Think

Malnutrition In Children: It’s Not Always What You Think
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Good nutrition, especially in the early years, is extremely important to your child’s development. Nutritious food is vital throughout the life of an individual. It is most critical from the time of the child’s conception until the child is two years old since pregnancy and early years after birth are very critical for the development of the brain and other vital organs. Having a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients such as vitamins, calcium, iron, fats, and carbohydrates are important to ensure the child’s overall development. Scroll down for the causes of malnutrition in children.

What Is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition is a condition in which your child does not receive essential nutrients, minerals, and calories that help the vital organs to develop in adequate quantities. Nutrients are important to help your child lead a healthy, disease-free life. Lack of adequate nutrition may cause several disorders, both physical and behavioral. Malnutrition and hunger are not the same, though the two may be related. Hunger is experienced when the stomach is empty, while malnutrition is a lack of sufficient nutrients. Malnourished children may be vulnerable to defects that lead to stunted growth and chronic illness.

Types Of Malnutrition In Children

Malnutrition is a major cause of concern worldwide with more children falling victim to malnutrition every year. The consequences of malnutrition can provoke destructive development, mental retardation, infection of the GI tract, anemia, and death. Malnutrition is caused not only by lack of nutrients but also by excessive consumption of the same.  Thus a balanced diet is very necessary for the child to be fed and healthy.

1. Underweight

As the name suggests, this is a condition in which a child does not grow in age and remains underweight because of waste, stunt or both. This form of malnutrition is also called malnutrition for growth failure. Although weight deficiencies can be corrected if the children’s nutritional needs are improved, it is difficult to correct height deficiencies.

2. Micronutrient Deficiency

Micronutrient deficiency or malnutrition means the lack of essential vitamins in the body, such as vitamins A, B, C and D along with a shortage of folate, calcium, iodine, zinc, and selenium. The long-lasting lack of these nutrients in the body causes micronutrient deficiency. Such nutrient aid can lead to poor growth and diseases such as anemia, poor brain growth, impaired thyroid function, rogues, weak immunities, nerve degeneration, poor vision, and poor bone development, as well as to the development and functionality of critical organ in the body.

3. Wasting

The sudden and drastic reduction of weight leads to three kinds of clinical malnutrition and is wasting or acute malnutrition:


The undernourished infant is seen to be plump due to its fluid retention in legs and feet (bilateral pitting oedema).


This form of malnutrition occurs when body fat and tissues degenerate at a rapid pace to compensate for the body’s lack of nutrients, which delays the immune system’s function and internal processes in the body.


This is a mixture of both marasmus and kwashiorkor, which is characterized by severe waste and oedema.

Cause Of Malnutrition In Child

Malnutrition can be caused by either a lack of essential nutrients or improper use of the same. A healthy diet is important to maintain sufficient levels of nutrients in the body. These are the factors that can lead your child to malnutrition.

  • Poor Diet
  • Irregular Diet
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Lack Of Breastfeeding
  • Diseases
  • Lack Of Physical Activity

Signs Of Malnutrition In Children

Signs and symptoms of infant and child malnutrition depend on what kind of nutritional deficiency the child has. Several symptoms and signs of malnutrition include:

  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Poor, stunted growth
  • Bloated stomach
  • Longer recovery time from wounds, infections, and illness
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Slow behavioral and intellectual development
  • Impairment in mental function and digestive problems

Tips To Avoid Malnutrition In Kids

The most common root cause of malnutrition in children is poor nutrient intake and lack of exercise. In order to prevent child malnutrition, parents must

  • Make sure babies get enough breast milk
  • Ensure the baby’s meals should be supplemented with formula milk if the mother faces a problem with lactation
  • Make sure a child is properly balanced with healthy food intake and dietary supplements
  • Ensure the physical activity of the child.

In children, malnutrition can be limited if simple diet plans have been followed and parents control the eating habits of the child. In the case of malnutrition, the child must take immediate corrective steps to avoid long-term and permanent harm to the child.

Also Read: Signs Of Food Allergies In Children