A descriptive study was conducted to assess the nutritional status of children less than five years of age during episode of diarrhea.
The study was aimed to observe the effect of diarrhea on dietary intake in hospitalized children less than 5 years of age. It was also planned to observe the change in weight for age during episode of diarrhea on admission and at the time of discharge. Moreover mother’s education and feeding habits during diarrhoel illness were also taken as variables of interest.
The study was conducted by enrolling children under five years of age during their admission in diarrhea ward of Pediatrics department of Mayo Hospital, Lahore from January to August 2001. The sample was consisted of 200 children less than 5 years of age of both sexes admitted in the diarrhea ward. A pre designed and pretested questionnaire was used to interview the mothers/attendants of children under 5 years of age. They were inquired about the variables included in the study questionnaire.
Age was recorded in months. The socioeconomic status was categorized in three classes. Mother’s education was also categorized as illiterate and number of years spent at school. The malnutrition was determined on the basis of WHO classification of weight for age. The degree of dehydration was assessed as recommended by WHO. Child's appetite was measured in terms of increased, decreased or static. Child’s feeding was assessed in terms of breast-feeding, mixed and top feeding. The amount of fluids administered as ORS/IV fluids were recorded. The range of age was one month to 60 months. The mean of the age was 17.67 months (+/- SD 22.9 months)
Socioeconomically fifty six percent fathers were belonging to the labor class. The malnutrition study reflected that 28.5% admitted children were normal, 16% were having first degree of malnutrition, 26.5% having 2nd degree while 29% having third degree.3% of children having no dehydration, 76.5% having some degree of dehydration while 20.5% were having severe degree of dehydration. 47.5% mothers/attendants were illiterates. 44% of children were admitted with decreased appetite, 45% having static while 1% has increased appetite. After 24 hours of admission, 32% of children had decreased appetite, 29% having static appetite while 39% having increased appetite. The appetite in both groups was significantly different with the chi square value 18.86 (d f=1) and P value 0.00001.
Thirteen percent illiterate mothers were breast-feeding. 6.5% mothers (having education between 1-7 class) had breast-feeding practice while 11.5% mothers (having education between 8th calls to graduation) were breastfeeding. Response of 150 mothers with children < 2 years about their breast feeding practices were compared by applying chi square test with one degree of freedom, the results did not show any significant association (chi square+0.45, P value>0.5).
The range of number of day’s diarrhea episode is between 1-30 before admission. The mean number was 5.28 days (+/- SD 10.77days). The range of the number of stools per day is between 2 to 30. The mean value was 12.2 stools per day (+/- SD 5.6 stools per day). 79% children were given both IV/ORS fluids, 13% were given ORS only and 8% were administered IV fluids only.
This disease is associated with decreased in dietary intake initially followed by an increase in appetite after the treatment with ORT. The weight remained static as the losses due to diarrhea are balanced by fluid therapy. The illiteracy in mothers probably remained an important risk factor for diarrhea and feeding habits during the disease.