|Year : 2014 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 99-101
Beliefs and practices regarding diet in common childhood illnesses among rural caregivers
Purushottam A Giri, Deepak B Phalke
Department of Community Medicine (PSM), Rural Medical College and Pravara Rural Hospital, Loni, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Web Publication||6-May-2014|
Purushottam A Giri
Department of Community Medicine (PSM), Rural Medical College of Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed University), Loni, Maharashtra 413 736
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Infant feeding and complementary feeding practices are the determinants of growth and development. Inadequate nutrition contributes substantially to childhood death and disease. Restriction of diet during common childhood illnesses further compromises the nutritional status of the child.
Objectives: The present study aims to determine the beliefs and practices among rural caregivers regarding diet during common childhood illnesses.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at pediatrics department of Pravara Rural Hospital, Loni from April to June 2012 by interviewing 200 caregivers of ill children. A pre-designed and pre-tested questionnaire, which based on the beliefs and practices regarding dietary pattern in common childhood illnesses, was used to collect the data. Results were analyzed in the form of percentage and proportions whenever appropriate.
Results: In this study, caregivers believed that a child must be fed less during illness. Majority (89%) believed that curd should be restricted during measles, and 69% and 72% believed that oily foods should be restricted during jaundice and fever, respectively. Feeding the child with khichadi (81.5%) was most preferred during measles, while banana (95%) was preferred food during diarrhea. About 32% preferred thinner consistency of food, and 21% believed that the breastfeeding should be decreased during illness.
Conclusion: There is scope of improving feeding practices and to remove misbelieves among few caregivers. Health workers should educate elderly caregivers and mothers about the same.
Keywords: Beliefs, caregivers, childhood illness, practices, rural India
|How to cite this article:|
Giri PA, Phalke DB. Beliefs and practices regarding diet in common childhood illnesses among rural caregivers. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2014;3:99-101
|How to cite this URL:|
Giri PA, Phalke DB. Beliefs and practices regarding diet in common childhood illnesses among rural caregivers. J Med Nutr Nutraceut [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Dec 7];3:99-101. Available from: http://www.jmnn.org/text.asp?2014/3/2/99/131962
| Introduction|| |
Malnutrition continues to be a major public health problem in India, and this contributes substantially to childhood mortality. Each year, about 12 million infants and children die in the developing countries.  Culture has a strong impact on the food behavior of people. Culturally, related food restriction and reduction in feeding frequency during common childhood illnesses such as diarrheal diseases, measles, and jaundice further contributes to the burden of malnutrition and thus to childhood morbidity and mortality.  The food, habits, and practices are closely related to the typical behavior of a particular group of people or culture. Such behavior follows codes of conduct in relation to food choice, methods of food preparation and eating, number of meals eaten per day, time of eating, and the size of the portion eaten.  Nutritional status of the population depends on the food expenditure pattern, storage practices, food fads and fallacies, cooking practices, and weaning foods.  Quantity and quality of feeding should be appropriate for a child's age. In India, lack of dietary education is one of the major drawbacks. Disease consumes calories. Food restriction in illness leads to calorie deprivation and malnutrition, with frequent illnesses.  A child's illness is a crucial moment for counseling of child feeding. Hence the present study was carried out to assess the beliefs and practices among rural caregivers regarding diet in common childhood illness.
| Materials and Methods|| |
A cross-sectional study was carried out at pediatrics department of Pravara Rural Hospital, Loni from April to June 2012. Pravara Rural Hospital is a tertiary level health care teaching center located in rural part of western Maharashtra, India and provides specialist's tertiary care services to patients largely belonging to lower/middle socio-economic strata of the society with rural background. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 200 caregivers accompanying the ill children at the time of data collection of either sex during study period, which constituted 166 (83%) mothers of children; 8 (4%) guardians, 4 (2%) fathers, and 22 (11%) grandmothers. All of the caregivers gave informed consent before they were enrolled in the study. The ethics committee of the institute approved the study. A pre-designed and pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect the data. Questions were open-ended based on the beliefs and practices regarding dietary pattern in common childhood illness. Results were analyzed in the form of percentage and proportions whenever appropriate.
| Results|| |
In the present study, a total of 200 caregivers, of them 166 (83%) were the mother of children; 8 (4%) were guardians, 4 (2%) fathers, and 22 (11%) grandmothers.
Caregiver's beliefs regarding the types of foods preferred and restricted during common childhood illness was depicted in [Table 1]. Regarding restricted food during illness, 71% of the respondents believed that cold food should be restricted during cold/cough; 69% believed that oily food should be restricted during jaundice; 75% believed that heavy food should be restricted during diarrhea; 89% believed that curd should be restricted during measles, and 72% believed that oily food should be restricted during fever. Regarding preferred food during illness, feeding the child with khichadi (81.5%) followed by milk (67.5%) and biscuits (59%) was most preferred during measles, while banana (95%) followed by sabudana/sago (92.5%) and rice water (89%) were preferred foods during diarrhea.
|Table 1: Caregiver's beliefs regarding diet during common childhood illnesses (n=200)|
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It was seen from [Table 2] that, 26.5% caregivers decreased the frequency of complementary feeding, while 11.5% increased giving complementary feeding and 9% stopped the complementary feeding during illness.
|Table 2: Caregiver's beliefs regarding complementary feeding during illness|
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Caregiver's belief regarding consistency of food during illness is shown in [Table 3]. Majority (32%) caregivers preferred thinner consistency, while only 8% preferred thick consistency of food during illness.
|Table 3: Caregiver's beliefs regarding consistency of food during illness|
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Regarding breastfeeding during illness, 21% caregivers believed that the frequency should be decreased, while 17% felt that frequency should be increased and 2% stopped the breastfeeding [Table 4].
|Table 4: Caregiver's beliefs regarding breast feeding frequency during illness|
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| Discussion|| |
In the present study, regarding restricted food during illness, curd (94.5%) followed by ice creams (71.5%) and cold foods (71%) were restricted during cold/cough. Similar findings have also been reported by other authors. , Foods like curd (89%) followed by dal rice (85%) and roti (67.5%) were most restricted during measles. Similar types of impression have been observed in various studies. ,,,, According to dietary beliefs of ayurveda, foods that produce cough are restricted in colds and ARI, as they increase the symptoms.
Majority (75%) respondents believed that heavy foods should be restricted during diarrhea. Similar findings have also been observed by other authors. ,,, About 69% and 72% respondents believed that oily foods should be restricted during jaundice and fever, respectively. Similar results were also found by Ali et al.  in his study.
Regarding preferred food during diarrhea in the present study, our findings were similar to other authors. ,, Feeding the child with khichadi (81.5%) followed by milk (67.5%) and biscuits (59%) were most preferred during measles. Similar findings have been observed by other authors too. ,,,
Regarding breastfeeding during illness, 21% caregivers believed that the frequency of breastfeeding should be decreased, while 17% felt that it should be increased. Similar type of findings has been also noted by Benakappa et al.  in her study. However, it is not correct to stop or to reduce breast feeding during illness, especially diarrhea.
Regarding consistency of food during illness, majority 32% caregivers preferred thinner consistency, while only 8% preferred thick consistency of food. Similar results were also found by Benakappa et al. 
It has been observed that any type of fever or illness disturbs the digestive system and child needs food such as khichadi or drinks like cow's milk that can be easily digested. The similar type of observation has been noted by Real et al.  in his study.
Regarding frequency of complementary feeding during illness, it has been observed that 26.5% caregivers decreased the frequency and 9% stopped the complementary feeding during illness. Similar results were also found by Benakappa et al.  in her study.
| Limitations|| |
One of the limitations of the study was based on the convenience sampling method, including only 200 caregivers, thus the caregivers who completed the survey may not reflect the beliefs and practices regarding diet of all rural caregivers. Secondly, we could not include questions that reflected a broad range of topics like "hot" and "cold" food concept in the study for evaluation of beliefs and practices regarding diet.
| Conclusion|| |
The study concludes that proper health education should be given to all caregivers, especially mothers of children at village level, through IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) strategy including dietary education with nutritional aspects of common foods. The study will help to design culturally relevant awareness program, which might help to increase the consumption of nutritious foods during illnesses and also to remove misbelieves in the area responsible for malnutrition among children.
| Acknowledgment|| |
We express our deep sense of gratitude to the Management, Pravara Medical Trust and The Principal, Rural Medical College Loni, Maharashtra, India. We also acknowledge the help of final year (III/II MBBS) medical students of 2009 batch during data collection.
| References|| |
World Health Organization. Infant and young child nutrition. c2002. Available from: http://apps.who.int/gb/archive/pdf_files/WHA55/ea5515.pdf. [Last accessed on 2013 Apr 16].
Real M, Kumar V, Nanda M, Vanaja K. Beliefs and practices of urban mothers regarding "hot" and "cold" foods in childhood illnesses. Ann Trop Paediatr 1982;2:93-6.
Kapil U, Sood AK, Gaur DR. Maternal beliefs regarding diet during common childhood illnesses. Indian Pediatr 1990;27:595-9.
Ali NS, Azam SI, Noor R. Women's beliefs regarding food restrictions during common childhood illnesses: A hospital based study. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 2003;15:26-8.
Sharma KP, Thakur AK. Maternal beliefs regarding diet during childhood illnesses. Indian Pediatr 1995;32:909-10.
Kandpal SD, Negi KS, Srivastava AK. Knowledge, attitude, beliefs and practices of mothers regarding measles in rural community. Indian J Prev Soc Med 2008;39:172-4.
Aggarwal K, Kannan AT, Chabra P, Trikha VK. Knowledge, attitude, beliefs and practices regarding diet during common childhood illness. Indian Pediatr 1995;32:917-9.
Singh MB. Maternal beliefs and practices regarding the diet and use of herbal medicines during measles and diarrhea in rural areas. Indian Pediatr 1994;31:340-3.
Bachrach LR, Gardner JM. Caregiver knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding childhood diarrhea and dehydration in Kingston, Jamaica. Rev Panam Salud Publica 2002;12:37-44.
Benakappa AD, Shivamurthy P. Beliefs regarding diet during childhood illness. Indian J Community Med 2012;37:20-4.
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]
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