Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nutrition Related Problems in Infants

A variety of problems can arise in the infant's life from improper nutrition or nutrition methods. Parents and caregivers should be careful while feeding their little ones. They should know all the basic rules of feeding their infants to avoid health problems as described below.

Feeding Problems in Infants

Following is a list of common possible feeding problems thwarting the infant's health.
Deficiency of iron in the dietDrinking raw milk from cows or goats which can cause viral or bacterial diseasesContinuing to drink from a bottle even after the child turns a yearling Getting supplements for vitamins and minerals beyond 150 % of the infant's US RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances)

Some common infant diseases that often cause trouble for infants are colic, diarrhea, milk allergy, and iron-deficiency anemia.


Colic is characterized most commonly by an infant's lengthy, unexplained spells of crying. These crying episodes are not relieved by typical homecare strategies like feeding, holding, and diaper changes. Colic is very common in infants; one out of every five infants suffers from colic. The most difficult times for the infants and parents are late afternoon and early evening when the infant cries continuously. Nighttime sleeping is frequently disturbed by crying spells of the baby. Colic usually disappears by itself after a few months. Colic is believed to be caused by a couple of reasons: (1) Allergy-causing proteins in formula or human milk (2) Excess of gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract of the child due to poor movement of nutrients down the gut. During a colic episode the infant responds by tucking itself into a ball. This is most probably caused by accumulation of gas that causes pain in the gut. While the crying in colic is not usually related to feeding, positioning a baby upright during feeding is helpful in relieving pain. It helps the baby to expel the trapped air easily by burping. The infant should also not be fed for longer than 30 minutes. In some severe cases, the baby's milk is changed from cow's milk protein-based formula to a predigested protein-formula. Studies also reveal that if breastfeeding mothers avoid taking dairy products, the infant has a low chance of suffering from colic. If changes in feeding strategies or products do not help alleviate the colic pain, the physician may prescribe medications.


The causes of diarrhea in infants are varied. In the United States alone about 500 infants die each year due to dehydration from diarrhea. To prevent dehydration, the simplest thing to do is giving the infant plenty of fluids, mostly clean and boiled water (cooled to the room temperature). Milk or heavy fruit juices should be removed from the infant's diet. Fluids like Pedialyte are made especially for infants. These contain glucose, sodium, potassium, chloride, and water. Once the diarrhea shows decline, you can switch a bottle-fed infant to a soy-based formula free of lactose for a few weeks. The breast-fed infant should continue being fed throughout from the breast.

Milk Allergy

Milk has more than 35 proteins that can lead to allergies in infants. Heating the milk makes some of these inactive. Still, some proteins remain potent enough to cause infant allergy. While milk allergy is not very common, it is advisable to switch infants to soy-based formulas for treating the crying and spitting up seen in infants fed on milk. In case of a true milk allergy, even the soy formula will not be effective for long. In such cases, a special formula with predigested protein is required.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron Deficiency Anemia mostly affects infants whose diet mainly consists of cow's milk (which is poor in iron) without sufficient solid food. The daily demand for new red blood cells in the infant's body quickly consumes the iron present in the body. This results in iron deficiency. To prevent this condition you should start feeding iron-rich cereals and meats to an infant that turns six months old. Also, limit the formula to 16-25 ounces (500 to 70 mm) daily. Further, the infant should not be fed cow's milk for the first year, not at all before three months of age. Cow's milk tends to cause intestinal bleeding in the infant. In case the infant gets anemia, the physician may advise medicinal iron supplements.

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