Protein Energy Malnutrition/Protein Calorie Malnutrition in Children

Did you know that if you are not getting the proper amount of calories (with protein) in your diet you can actually become malnourished? Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) (also known as Protein Calorie Malnutrition) is a very real issue that can be seen in anyone; it is mostly seen in children and the elderly. For those living in developed countries PEM/PCM is the leading cause of death in children, but this issue is seen all over the world. A balanced diet is such a vital part of a person’s daily diet that the body reacts in very adverse ways when it does not get enough. The best way to make sure that someone you love is not suffering from PEM is to know the symptoms and affects involved.
PEM in children:
·        Weight loss
·        Thin, tired, and dehydrated
·        Dry, flaking skin
·        Reduced hair growth
·        General growth is stunted
·        Electrolyte imbalances
·        Blood pressure reduction, heart’s capacity to pump blood reduced by up to 30%
·        Anemia; lethargy associated with anemia
·        Enlarged liver
·        Smaller than normal head circumference
·        Loss of brain weight and cells
·        Skin lesions; issues with healing
What to do:
·        Eating a balanced and adequate diet
·        Correct electrolyte imbalances
·        Increase body fat storage
·        Know how many calories a child’s body requires
·        Know how much protein a child’s body requires
·        Look for permanent solutions to food deprivation
There are no exact answers for the amount of protein and calories that any given child would need; the best thing to do is speak to a nutritionist or physician in your area. PEM/PCM occurring from lack of protein/calories because nourishment is not available is called primary PEM/PCM. There are many diseases that hinder nutrition such as cancer, AIDS, kidney failure, etc. These illnesses cause secondary PEM/PCM of which there are several kinds; these are the most common in the United States. Treatment of this issue is vital as prolonged suffering can cause permanent side-effects and can be fatal.