2 Protein deficiency in children
2.1 Causes of protein deficiency in children
2.2 Diagnosis of protein deficiency in children
2.3 Improvement of protein deficiency in children
3 The importance of protein for children
5 tips to boost children’s protein nutrition
Proteins are large and complex molecules responsible for many sensitive functions in the body.
It is made up of long chains of hundreds or thousands of amino acids.
Protein can be produced by combining 20 different types of amino acids.
The three-dimensional structural structure of each protein and its function
are determined by the sequence of these amino acids,
Protein deficiency occurs when the amounts of energy gained are low,
or when the quality of amino acids is low.
Or due to an increased need for nutrients during illness,
It should be noted the need to obtain adequate amounts of protein,
especially during childhood and adolescence. To ensure adequate and healthy growth.
Protein deficiency in children
Protein deficiency in children causes many health problems, which are as follows:
First: Stunted Growth:
Protein is essential for body growth, and it is also needed to maintain muscle and bone mass.
Therefore, protein deficiency affects children especially negatively.
This is because their bodies need to constantly feed for their growth,
and stunting is one of the most common signs of malnutrition among children.
As the 2013 statistics indicated that growth had stalled for nearly 161 million children.
And observational studies have shown a strong relationship between
low protein intake and impaired growth.
A study published in Acta Pediatrica also indicated that not eating the
the recommended amount of protein negatively affects the height and growth
speed of children with phenylketonuria (English: Phenylketonuria).
Stunted growth in children is one of the main characteristics of
Kwashiorkor disease, or the so-called protein malnutrition,
malignant malnutrition, or protein and energy malnutrition.
It is a disease known as a severe case of severe protein deficiency,
That causes stomach distension; As a result of fluid retention in the body,
It is one of the most common conditions among children, especially
those who do not receive adequate nutrition after stopping breastfeeding,
and these cases require immediate medical care.
Edema, or swelling and fluid retention, are the main signs and symptoms of kwashiorkor.
It usually appears first in the legs and later throughout the body, including the face.
There are also some other symptoms of this disease, including the following:
- Loss of muscle mass.
- Enlarged abdomen.
- Infections of all types, normal, more severe, or long-term.
- The appearance of inflamed spots of dark color on the skin.
- Hair weakness, dryness, and easy loss of color.
- Irritability or fatigue.
- Children are at increased risk of infection when left untreated for long periods, which may cause death.
In children, lack of protein may cause another disease known as marasmus.
However, it differs from kwashiorkor in that it is a form of malnutrition
caused by a lack of calories, and its symptoms include:
- Thin, bony face
- Sunken eyes
- Dry skin and hair
- Ribs and shoulders protruding
- Persistent dizziness
- Chronic diarrhea,
- Frequent dehydration
- Infection frequently
It is worth noting that severe protein deficiency may cause bloating,
fatty liver, skin degeneration, and an increase in the severity of infection.
Causes of protein deficiency in children
The cause of protein deficiency in children is not clear.
But there are some reasons that may be associated with the occurrence of this condition, such as:
Eating foods that consist mainly of corn, cassava, or rice, and a lack of nutritional antioxidants,
Usually, kwashiorkor is caused by a lack of nutrients and proteins in the
diet of children under 4 years old, and after stopping breastfeeding,
And it is more common in areas with weak food supplies and high
rates of malnutrition,
In addition, some cases are caused by eating disorders, such as loss of appetite and aging.
Diagnosing protein deficiency in children
Protein deficiency is usually diagnosed with one of the following blood tests:
Total protein ratio analysis
Albumin protein analysis
Analysis of the ratio of albumin to globulin, which are proteins produced
by the liver, as these tests help in detecting low levels of total proteins,
or the arrival of albumin and globulin proteins to optimal levels.
Improve protein deficiency in children
Kwashiorkor and Marasmus disease are life-threatening medical emergencies.
Treatment requires complex nutritional programs by specialists with
experience in re-feeding children with malnutrition caused by lack of protein and energy,
In developing countries, people with kwashiorkor are treated by
giving them ready-to-use therapeutic food.
As for cases of protein deficiency resulting from problems in absorbing protein from the foods eaten,
The problem causing poor absorption is treated to treat protein deficiency.
The importance of protein for children
Protein is one of the essential nutrients for building and supporting the body.
It is stored in muscle and collagen, and protein and its constituent
amino acids act similar to hormones, enzymes, and other transporters of other nutrients.
In addition to its role in strengthening the skin and bones
Sources of protein vary between plant sources and animal sources.
The following is an explanation of these sources:
1- animal protein sources:
Protein from animal sources contains all the essential amino acids
that the body needs, and is a complete source of protein, such as: meat,
poultry, whey (in English: Whey Protein), fish and seafood.
2- plant sources:
This group includes lentils, chickpeas, hemp seeds, tofu, nuts,
quinoa, nutritional yeast, tempeh, black beans and peanut butter.
Tips to boost children’s protein nutrition
Children’s nutrition is based on the same principles as adult nutrition,
in terms of needing the same nutrients from minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, fats,
However, the quantities vary according to age.
Here are some tips to increase the proportion of protein and energy in the child’s diet:
- Offer small frequent meals and snacks to the child every 2 to 3 hours.
- Replace low-fat foods with high-fat creamy foods.
- Feeding the baby in a fun and enjoyable way, avoiding distraction and distraction.
- Choose foods rich in protein and energy for all meals and snacks.
- Constantly storing high-energy and protein foods at home.
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