Nutrition and hygiene helps protect children from pneumonia

Nutrition, cleanliness and hygiene should be paid attention more so when a woman becomes pregnant. Good balanced nutrition for the pregnant woman and postnatal for her new born child is a blessing in warding off infections and boosting child’s immunity. Childhood pneumonia is a common disease affecting an alarming number of children below 5 years of age.

“When a woman becomes pregnant then we advise her to take iron, calcium, protein rich diets or supplements such as soya-bean, or jaggery (rich in iron). Jaggery is a rich source of iron and is easily available in rural and urban India. Jaggery is also not expensive. Eating cottage cheese and drinking milk is recommended too as these are rich in protein and calcium both. If we take special care of pregnant woman’s nutrition then the baby is more likely to be born healthy. Another benefit of providing good nutrition to the pregnant woman is that it is more likely for the delivery to be at full term (and not premature). If the child is born full-term and is not a premature born baby then the risk of infections is significantly reduced” said Dr Rama Shankhdhar, a senior Gynaecologist and Obstetrician practising in Indira Nagar, Lucknow.

“We should maintain high degree of cleanliness and hygiene. Before taking the child in our arms we should wash our hands properly. Before feeding the child, mother should wipe her breast with a wet and clean towel so that talcum powder or sweat or cream etc is wiped away and doesn’t go in the child’s mouth. The mother should take a daily bath, bathe her baby daily and change her or his clothes daily. Every time the child passes urine or stools please clean the child properly and keep her or him dry. Child’s clothes should be washed properly. After six months too children should be fed homemade food only and refrain from giving spices or fast-food items to your child” said Dr Shankhdhar.

“We should provide a balanced nutrition to the mother and child (after six months). Our body needs proportionate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and other vitamins and minerals and that is why it is important to ensure proper amounts of nutrition in our diet. If we provide a balanced nutritious diet to the pregnant woman and after delivery to the mother and child (exclusive breastfeeding for first six months) then the child develops strong immunity. A balanced nutrition will help the child fight diseases such as pneumonia” said Dr Abhishek Verma, Senior Paediatrician, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow.

Added Dr Shankhdhar: “Every pregnant woman wishes for a healthy baby and prays that her child should remain away from all the diseases and infections. To fulfil her own desire she is required to ensure proper balanced nutritious diet especially when she becomes pregnant and also for her baby when she or he is born. She should ensure exclusive breastfeeding for first six months of her child’s life. Her diet should include as appropriate nutritious food such as milk, eggs, fish or meat, green vegetables, food grains, lentil among others. Instead of sugar she should eat jaggery which is a rich source of iron. ‘Bajra’ is a rich source of calcium.”

If proper balanced nutrition is ensured for the pregnant woman and after birth for her child in early years, it helps build strong self-defence (immunity) in the child and reduces the risk of infections significantly.

Nadeem Salmani – CNS
(Translation: Bobby Ramakant – CNS)