Good nutrition protects children from pneumonia

Children, who are malnourished, undernourished or those who are not breastfed during the first six months of birth have less resistance towards diseases. As a result they are more prone to pneumonia. Thus good nutrition and mother’s milk have an important contribution in preventing childhood pneumonia. Globally 44% infant mortality due to pneumonia is caused by malnutrition.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pneumonia accounts for 1.9 million (1,900,000) under five child deaths per year globally. This is greater than deaths in children by other diseases. Pneumonia is a type of respiratory infection associated with fast breathing and affects the air spaces or alveoli of the lungs. In a healthy person after inhalation the alveoli get filled up with air, but in a pneumonia patient, these air spaces get filled up with pus and fluids which makes breathing difficult and excessively painful. This also limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the body.

 According to Dr KK Verma, Senior Paediatrician, District Hospital, Bahraich, “Complete nutrition is very crucial in protecting children from pneumonia. This ensures that the body is getting adequate amounts of vitamins that prevent pneumonia. Children should be given pulses, chapattis and rice. Readymade baby food should be avoided as far as possible. This is bad nutrition for children.”

Dr PK Mishra, Gynaecologist, District Hospital, Bahraich, also opines, “Mother’s milk is the best nutrition for children upto six months. After that porridge etc can be given. Bottle feeding should be avoided as it is not the right nutrition. There is lack of awareness among mothers. They need to be educated in this regard because if they are informed they will adopt these recommendations.”

According to Dr Kumud Anup, Senior Paediatrician from Lucknow, suggests, “Hand hygiene is very important which can prevent pneumonia and several other childhood diseases. Thus right nutrition not only protects children from pneumonia and other diseases but also aids in their physical development and building up of body resistance. Pulses, chapattis, vegetables are the best and the cheapest sources of nutrition which is in no way harmful for the child.”

Similarly, Dr. Verma is of the opinion that hygiene is highly important for preventing pneumonia in children. Hence children should be handles only after proper hand washing. They should be dressed in clean and fresh clothes. It is advisable to use a large no. Of clothes and if there are only a few dresses then they should be washed frequently.

 According to the WHO good nutrition plays a very important role in preventing childhood pneumonia. During the first six months after birth mother’s milk is complete and adequate nutrition for the child. It is a source of natural immunity that not only provides complete nutrition but also builds up the body’s disease resistance.

Hence by providing good nutrition and a clean hygienic environment to children we can protect them from not only pneumonia but several other infectious diseases. For this mother’s milk is complete food for the first six months. From 6-24 months it can be supplemented with pulses, rice, chapattis, vegetables, porridge and other whole meals. There is lack of awareness among masses. There is need to mobilise them in this regard. When people will follow this regime children will be protected from pneumonia and other diseases.

Rahul Kumar Dwivedi – CNS
(Translated by Somya Arora)