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A nutritional disease of childhood associated with a maize diet - Essay Example

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This classic paper published in 1933 records the first clinical observations of a rampant nutrition deficiency disease in children of the Gold Coast (now, Ghana). Williams describes in detail, the syndrome she commonly observed in children of either sex, in the age group of 1-4…
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Download file to see previous pages actor related to a dietary deficiency, perhaps a form of protein malnutrition, on account of a lack of some amino acids in the diet of the affected children which was entirely based on inadequate breast milk supplemented by a maize preparation. Despite certain similarities in the symptoms of the described syndrome and pellagra, Williams was quite certain that the disease was not pellagra or beri-beri.
In this paper a new disease has been meticulously described with detailed information provided about the familial circumstances and dietary habits of the suffering children. However, as the author herself states, it was “impossible to conduct a scientific investigation into the cause, or to make any controlled experiments into the nature of the cure” (p.432). As a Woman Medical Officer in charge of maternal and child health in the British colony of Gold Coast, Williams’ job was “to hand out advice in clinics and treat acutely ill infants in the hospital, but she rapidly established the need for comprehensive medical services to sick infants, and in addition conducted clinical research” (Stanton, 2001, p 149). The disease, subsequently named by Williams as kwashiorkor, meaning ‘disease of the deposed child’ in the native Ga language, is now well-defined although the “descriptions and interpretations of kwashiorkor have changed over time” (Stanton, 2001, p 151). Kwashiorkor has come to be recognised as a form of malnutrition caused by inadequate protein intake in the presence of fair to good energy (total calories) intake (Van Voorhees, 2006). Fuchs (2005) describes protein caloric malnutrition as the most deadly form of malnutrition. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is the primary or associated cause of nearly 30000 deaths of children under five each day (2000). The aetiology of kwashiorkor as understood today is clearly multifactorial and includes poverty or food insecurity, inadequate weaning and other feeding practices, and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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