Feeding Practices in Relation to Childhood Diarrhea and Malnutrition

  • Dilip Mahalanabis


A recent analysis of the findings from 27 active surveillance studies conducted for a year or more suggests that about 750 million children below 5 years of age in Asia, Africa, and Latin America suffer from acute diarrhea each year.1 It has also been estimated that between 3 and 6 million in this age group die from acute diarrhea each year; 80% of these deaths occur in the first 2 years of life. Repeated attacks of diarrhea are thought to produce malnutrition and growth retardation, presumably because of (a) associated food restriction by mothers, (b) anorexia, (c) malabsorption and direct nutrient losses in the feces, and (d) catabolic effects of the infection causing diarrhea. For example, a careful longitudinal study by Martorell and co-workers in Guatemalan children 7 years old and under showed that repeated attacks of diarrhea lead to significantly more growth retardation in both height and weight compared to that associated with other illnesses.2 Rowland et al. 3 reported that diarrhea is the most significant infection retarding growth of Gambian children. Using the multiple regression technique, they have also shown that had there been no diarrhea, the growth velocity of the Gambian children would have been similar to that of affluent societies.


Feeding Practice Acute Diarrhea Early Feeding Childhood Diarrhea Oral Rehydration Therapy 
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Copyright information

© The United Nations University 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dilip Mahalanabis
    • 1
  1. 1.Kothari Centre of Research in GastroenterologyCalcutta Medical Research InstituteCalcuttaIndia

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