Feeding practices of infants and children during diarrhea in Lima, Peru

During my presentation about infant morbidity and mortality, I just barely touched on infants and children that suffer from diarrhea and malnutrition.  These are two of the most serious afflictions faced by young children, especially in low-resource settings.  This particular article looks at the feeding practices of children with diarrhea in a semi-urban setting in Lima, Peru (I chose to look at Peru because my family is Peruvian).  In 2010, 4% of deaths among children younger than 5 years occurred because of diarrhea.  In addition, chronic malnutrition is prevalent (roughly about 32% in rural areas and 11% in urban areas).  Although such illnesses, when recognized, are easily resolved with home interventions such as increased breastfeeding, oral rehydration, and increasing the intake of foods (especially with high water content), the feeding practices in Lima are not coherent with these practices.  In fact, in this article, a survey revealed that of 390 caregivers, 71.9% discontinued or lessened normal feeding (40% of those withheld vegetables and fruits), and 22.1% believed feeding to children during episodes of diarrhea was harmful.  Yet, after an educational intervention (which included pamphlets with advice for breastfeeding throughout diarrheal episodes, signs and symptoms of dehydration, and improved feeding measures), only 23% of caregivers would recommend withholding feeding during diarrhea.  The second follow-up survey was taken 3 months after the intervention.

It would be beneficial to continue follow up of these caregivers to see if they continue to follow these guidelines.  Also, there could be implementation of community awareness, with some sort of community educator program to further educate all caregivers in Lima.  No child should die from something as treatable as diarrhea.

Pantenburg, B., Ochoa, T.J., Ecker, L., & Ruiz, J.  (2014).  Feeding of Young Children during Diarrhea: Caregivers’ Intended Practices and Perceptions.  Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg, 91(3): 555-562.  doi: 10.4269/atjmh.13-0235

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