Under-nutrition, Poor Diet Making Children Prone to Tuberculosis

Jaipur, March, 2019.

Once considered to be the poor man’s disease, Tuberculosis has afflicted children even from the well-of families. As the TB virus becomes widespread, doctors at the Fortis Hospital, Jaipur, say that nowadays they witnessing a spurt in cases of Tuberculosis caused by under-nutrition among kids.

It’s not only the children residing in slums in unhygienic conditions, several cases of kids from affluent families suffering from TB have come to light off-late and might be these kids are taken care by Caretaker/Gardner or any other person who are suffering from TB. 

Children becoming addicted to fast food and other snacks have worsened the situation as many ready-to-eat foods lack required nutrients needed for child’s growth.

“Apart from giving timely vaccine like BCG, providing good nutritious food to kids is the best way to keep the disease away. Nowadays, cases of TB among children are reported not only from economically weaker section, but also from relatively affluent urban families. Tuberculosis prevention must focus on under nutrition which drastically reduces immunity and creates nutrient deficiencies,” Says Dr Sanjay Chaudhary, Sr Consultant – Paediatrics, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur.

Children with active TB experience weight loss caused by many factors, including loss of appetite, reduced food intake. Lack of nutrition creates a gap in growth and functioning of the body, leading to delayed response to treatments and cure.

Tuberculosis continues to be one of the 10 leading causes of death worldwide and India has one of the highest TB related cases annually, with children also being at the receiving end.

What is making the situation more alarming is that many children aren’t getting appropriate care which makes them remain undiagnosed for a long time.

Infants and children under the age of five continue to be under the high risk category of contracting both the TB infection and disease and this is this vulnerable group which needs to be protected by providing proper care from the beginning.

It’s high time parents must encourage their children to adopt healthy lifestyle and food habits so that it can help them stay protected from catching the deadly bacteria. If the nutrition level among children is weak then there is a high risk that they are exposed to TB bacillus as it is widely prevalent in the country.

“Parents should be cautious and vigilant. They should not ignore common symptoms such as fever, persistent cough and heavy breath as ignoring these symptoms could leave the TB remain undetected among children. Also diseases like anemia, pneumonia and other ailments may give rise to Tuberculosis in children.Take care of your child’s diet and encourage them to takevitamins, minerals, and protein rich food to stay healthy. Most of time child is secondary affected by a ‘Contact’ with ‘open case’ of TB, which means a person suffering from TB should bring his/her children to be checked preventively to prove or disprove the likely possibility and early treatment of TB,” adds Dr Chaudhary.

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