Medical Bulletin

Nutrition in Childhood

Nutritional intake of children should provide for maintenance of weight and support normal growth and development. The infancy (first year) growth period is rapid and critical for neuro intellectual development and requires higher nutrition than other periods of growth .During childhood growth period, 60% total growth occurs. Nutrition and growth during first 3 years of life predict adult height and health outcome. Appropriate feeding practices should be established in the neonatal period and carried out in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Exclusive breast feeding is recommended during first 4 months. The timely introduction of solid and liquid foods other than milk during infancy is necessary to enable transition from milk feeding to other foods for adequate nutrition and development. The weaning should begin at 4-6 months of age. It should not occur before 4 months and should not be delayed beyond 6 months. The important goals of early childhood nutrition are to encourage healthful eating habits and to offer food that are developmentally appropriate .A new food has to be offered multiple times before being considered rejected by the child. School age children and adolescents should be provided with information on recommended diet, the advantage of regular physical activity, unhealthy eating habits and disadvantages of eating out meals. Regular family meals is associated with improved diet quality.

The most important causes of under nutrition are often inadequate knowledge about the benefits of exclusive breast feeding, complementary feeding practices, the role of micronutrients and the lack of time women have for appropriate infant care and their own care during pregnancy. Obesity is a global public health problem with risk of complication in childhood and increased mortality and morbidity throughout adult life.

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