School-age children (6-12 years old) really need food that is full of nutrients to support their needs and development. But apparently, malnutrition in children is still experienced, especially micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrients are nutrients needed in small amounts in the body but a huge impact on carrying out metabolism.
4 Types Malnutrition in Children
Usually, malnutrition in children has 3 main problems: iron, vitamin A, and iodine deficiency. Even though these 3 problems have started to improve, parents should stay alert. Also, there is one more thing that needs to be monitored right now, vitamin D deficiency. To recognize what types of malnutrition in children, as parent you need to be aware of:
Lack of Iron
World Health Organization or WHO estimates that around 53 percent of school-age children experience iron deficiency anemia globally, especially in developing countries. The iron function is to carry oxygen to all body cells in order to work properly.
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where the body lacks iron resulting in a decrease in the number of red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia has a severe impact on the cognitive and physical development of children. Studies show with a sufficient amount of iron in a child’s body, the child will experience increased concentration, school performance, and learning achievement.
The cause of iron deficiency anemia in children aged over 5 years to adolescents is due to excessive bleeding and excessive menstruation specifically in girls. Bleeding conditions can be caused due to worm infections, for example, hookworm. And the most common symptoms of this condition are:
- The skin is always pale
- Easily tired
- Easy to get an infection due to decreased endurance
- Decreased learning achievement
- Decreased appetite
According to the Dietitians of Canada, food sources that rich in iron include:
- Chicken meat
- Nuts like almonds and cashews
To help optimize the absorption of iron from vegetable food sources, it is also necessary to consume enough vitamin C to help its optimal absorption in the body.
Lack of Iodine
Iodine deficiency is one of the public health problems in several developing countries. The body cannot produce iodine on its own, so iodine is very important to get from daily food. Iodine can be found in a variety of foods such as:
- Milk and other milk products
Naturally, daily food does not contain so much iodine. In some countries, iodine is included in food additives, one of which is table salt. Moreover, iodine is one of the important nutrients needed by the body for thyroid hormone production.
When the body experiences iodine deficiency, then the thyroid gland enlarges to catch as much iodine from food that enters the body. The enlargement of the thyroid gland is also known as goiter.
An increasingly severe condition of iodine deficiency can cause mental retardation and developmental disorders in children called creatinism. The child may have short stature and experience impaired ability to hear and speak.
Lack of Vitamin A
According to WHO, vitamin A deficiency affects around 85 million school-age children in the world and often faced by countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. Vitamin A deficiency is the main cause of blindness that can be prevented in children.
This type of malnutrition in children also causes impaired immune function, poor iron metabolism, and acute respiratory infections. Overcoming vitamin A deficiency is very important for children’s survival. Even, in some countries provide vitamin A supplementation for 6 months old.
You can also obtain vitamin A from various food sources, such as:
- Fish and Fish oil
- Milk which is fortified with vitamin A
- Margarine which is fortified with vitamin A
Lack of Vitamin D
The last common malnutrition in children is lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is a type of malnutrition that must be considered in children in their growth period. This is because vitamin D deficiency is very dangerous for growth.
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Vitamin D is needed for bone growth and development. Not only that, but vitamin D also helps absorb and maintain calcium and phosphorus in the body in order to build strong bones. If a child is deficient in vitamin D, then the child is at risk of experiencing delayed or stunted motor development, muscle weakness, and fractures.
Children who have a risk of vitamin D deficiency include children whose skin is usually covered, have certain organ disorders such as liver or kidney disease, and children who spend most of their time in the house so do not get a lot of sun exposure. Sources of vitamin D can be obtained from:
- Cow liver
- Egg yolk