Infectious Diseases among Malnourished Children: Neurocognitive Performance

Author : Monalisa Debnath, Sharmistha Singh, Aruna Agrawal, G. P. Dubey

Malnutrition plays a pivotal role in the development of various infections viz diarrhoea, pneumonia, hepatitis, tuberculosis, resulting in poor mental performance of the children. A comparative study was conducted to determine the prevalence of infectious diseases among malnourished children and further to evaluate its effect on cognitive status. A comprehensive field study was conducted among 948 malnourished children with an age range of 5-12 years out of which 604 and 344 samples were analysed from the urban and rural localities of Varanasi respectively. Along with anthropometric assessments, the malnourished samples were analyzed to determine the prevalence of infectious diseases and their effect on cognitive function like Intelligent Quotient( IQ), attention span, Long Term Memory(LTM) and Short Term Memory(STM). Our study revealed that rural children were having comparatively lower Body Mass Index and poor skinfold thickness with higher prevalence of infectious diseases than the urban children. Rural malnourished children suffered more from infectious diseases along with poor mental performance resulting in poor scholastic performance of the children. Children belonging to rural areas and poor socio-economic background fail to avail the basic nutritional needs, thus suffer from cognitive impairment. Malnourished children are more prevalent towards various infectious diseases which further affect their brain function.

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